Bicycles must obey traffic laws

By Ashley Bergner
Newton Kansan
Editor’s note: This is the second article in a series about bicycle safety. The previous article ran April 14 in the Kansan.
Though a bicycle may be a very different type of vehicle from a car, both have to follow the same rules of the road.
“Bicycles should obey traffic laws, because we are considered a vehicle,” said Carol Sue Stayrook Hobbs, a member of the ReNewton Bicycle Initiative group.
She said it’s important for motorists to respect the fact bicyclists have a right to the road, as well.
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, cyclists always should ride with traffic, never against it. Cyclists should ride on the right side of the road, except when passing a vehicle, preparing to turn left or avoiding hazards. It is never safe to pass on the right.
While inside a roundabout, you should move to the center of the lane and watch for vehicles that are entering or exiting the roundabout.
Cyclists should follow all road laws, which include yielding at “yield” signs, stopping at “stop” signs, and paying attention to traffic lights, Hobbs said.
Cyclists should ride at least three feet away from the curb, and it is legal for two cyclists to ride side by side on a roadway.

Other tips to follow include:
• Knowing where to ride and where NOT to ride — According to KDOT, bicycles are allowed on Kansas highways, with the exception of interstates and the Kansas Turnpike. Also pay attention to which sidewalks or paths are meant for cyclists to use, and which are intended solely for pedestrians.
• Be aware of motorists around you, KDOT advises. Don’t assume vehicles can see you; make frequent, quick glances  over your shoulder, and don’t ride with distractions such as headphones and cell phones.
• When you come to a set of railroad tracks, try to cross them at a right angle.
• Hobbs also urges motorists to keep an eye out for cyclists. With the rising cost of gas and concern for the environment, she said people likely will be seeing more bicycles on the road.
When passing a bicycle, drivers should make sure to cross all the way over into the left lane. It may be tempting to zip quickly around a bicycle, but it isn’t safe for drivers to crowd cyclists, Hobbs said.