May is National Bike Month -?a good time for motorists and cyclists alike to focus on safety.
Marquette is taking the initiative, recently recognized by a Bike Friendly Community Award from the League of American Bicyclists, to make the city more bikeable. As that effort picks up speed, we should expect to see more "multimodal" streets designated for people who either commute or travel long distances on bicycles. We should also expect to see the number of cyclists in town continue to rise. Unfortunately, that will probably also mean an increase in car-bike traffic problems.
We urge eveyone to remember that bicycles have all the same rights and responsibilities on the roadways as any other vehicle.
Awareness is the key car-bicycle harmony. Bicyclists need to be aware of their surroundings, because motorists are not always looking for them. There's a lot cyclists can do to prevent accidents from ever developing - watching for the car that just parked and anticipating the car door just about to open, riding with the direction of traffic, not riding on the sidewalk and using proper hand signals for turns.
And motorists need to be on the alert for cycling traffic and extend the same consideration to bikers as they do to other cars or pedestrians. Cyclist have a right to the road. The only area bikes are restricted in Marquette is the U.S. 41 bypass from Front Street to Washington Street.
If there's one safety tip that bikers should keep at the top of their list, it's wearing a helmet. Statistics show 698 bicyclists died on U.S. roads in 2007 and two-thirds of these deaths were the result of traumatic brain injury. Non-helmeted riders are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than helmeted riders.
So cyclists can do a lot to improve their odds. And motorists can cooperate to make sure everybody's ride is safe. Both bikers and drivers need to remember safety is - like so many things - a two-way street.