ALTON — Earlier this week, charges were filed against the driver of a vehicle authorities say struck and killed cyclist Carol Admire on May 23 along the Great River Road.
The incident sparked a growing concern from cyclists and a concerned public regarding bicycle safety in the area. Area cyclist and Wild Trak Bikes owner Tom Harp says one of the biggest obstacles is education, a responsibility not only of the riders, but motorists as well.
“I always go back to the rules of the road handbook,” Harp says. “It details how drivers are supposed to act when they approach a cyclist or pedestrian, specifically in regards to how much space they are supposed to give and what a cyclist’s rights to the roads are.”
While education is a problem, it isn’t the only one. There are also issues regarding safety conditions on roads, the speed of drivers and when and where to ride.
“Another issue I’ve seen with cyclists is riding against traffic,” Harp says. “The ones I’ve spoken to about it say they feel safer because they see traffic coming, but they are actually breaking the law.”
Just like motorists, cyclists have rules to follow when using the road.
“Some cyclists will blow through red lights at a busy intersection, and those are the kind of people we need to educate, too,” Harp says.
Some of the safety concerns have to do with the actual roads in the area. For example, there is signage indicating certain roads are shared with bike routes. On some roads, the only separators between the bike route and car lanes are painted lines. These are problems safety advocates also are addressing. Cyclist safety advocates have been expressing their concern regarding signage, specifically on the Great River Road.
“From Piasa Harbor to Alton, on the river side of the road, there is actually no signage indicating a bike route,” Harp says. “There are also no rumble strips that separate the shoulder from the roadway.”
Cyclist advocates say changes like these can help ensure safety along bike routes throughout the city as well as the Great River Road.
One of the biggest dangers for drivers and cyclists is speeding. Obeying posted speed limits can protect the safety of everyone sharing the road.
“Speed is a lifestyle now,” Harp says. “Very few people will slow down enough to grant me my 3 feet space and 30 seconds.
“If you set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier, you wouldn’t be as rushed. Simply taking your time on the road can greatly improve everyone’s safety.”
Harp is the man behind the “ghost bike,” a memorial placed at the site where Admire was killed. When the first memorial bike was stolen, he returned with another bike and a plaque commemorating the incident and need for awareness.
More information on the rules of the road and tips for cyclist safety are available at www.cyberdriveillinois.com or www.dmv.org. There also is a cyclist’s rules of the road available at www.cyberdriveillinois.com, which lays out the rules and responsibilities when riding a bike on the roads.