By Tim Kowols
Hundreds of law enforcement officers across the state, including members of the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department, will kick off the Special Olympics Wisconsin State Summer Games by bicycling to the event’s site in Stevens Point. The Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg begins Thursday as Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski and others start their ride from the Oneida Police Department to UW-Stevens Point to support Special Olympics Wisconsin. Joski says the ride is a great way to support a worthy cause and its special athletes.
Joski says Thursday’s ride is a good reminder for all to practice good bike safety on area roadways, including staying visible and giving all vehicles plenty of space to operate. You can read the rest of Joski’s Sheriff’s Corner online with this story.
Later this week, I will once again be joined by hundreds of Law Enforcement Officers as we bike half way across the State of Wisconsin in commemoration of the 2018 Special Olympics. For Northeast Wisconsin, our leg of the Torch run starts at the Oneida Police Department and ends in Stevens Point. It is a beautiful ride which culminates in our attending the opening ceremonies at the UW Stevens Point Campus. If you have never heard of this event, please visit our Facebook site and maybe even consider giving a donation to this worthy cause.
So now on to the subject of this article; bike safety.
As you can imagine biking alongside STH 54 or even better STH 10, is an interesting experience. We are fortunate to have emergency vehicles as escorts the entire way, and even with those vehicles, we still experience some close calls. After biking this stretch for the past few years, I can honestly count myself among those advocating for heightened awareness for bicyclists as they share the roads with motor vehicles.
We are very fortunate here in Kewaunee County to live in a community of such natural beauty. People from near and far spend countless hours pedaling many miles either as individuals or as part of groups raising money for charities. Some of these rides take place on the many miles of the Ahnapee Trail, while others share the road with those traveling in motor vehicles. Even for those riding on the trail, there are numerous points where the trails must cross or merge with public roadways, and because of this some very basic and important safety tips apply to both scenarios.
Visibility is a major safety consideration when on a bicycle due to the decreased size of the bicyclist’s profile both when being passed and met by a motor vehicle. Any efforts to bring attention to both the rider as well as the bike itself are always a good practice. Either light colored clothing and or reflective materials will help in being identified by a driver at a much greater distance, thus giving the driver of a vehicle much more time to navigate safety around the bike and its driver.
This brings us to the next safety tip: Navigating around a bike traveling on a roadway. The most frequent complaint I receive from bicyclists is that vehicles do not provide a safe distance when passing. If you as a driver of a vehicle cannot provide for a safe distance between your vehicle and bike when you are passing, it is best you follow until the opportunity is there to pass them as you would a slow moving vehicle. Just as a motorcycle has the right to their lane of traffic so too does the bicyclist. Many think that if more than one bicycle is traveling, they need to be in a single file line. This is not the case. Just as two motorcycles may travel side by side within their lane of traffic, the same goes for bicycles. Please treat them as you would any other slow moving motor vehicle.
Now to the bicyclist, please operate your bike with the traffic, not against it. Sometimes people get confused as the common practice for walking is to go against the traffic. Also, those street signs are meant for you as well. Another good tip is to use the traditional arm signals. I know we were all taught them as kids, and yes they are still relevant when operating a bicycle. These signals are your way of communicating to vehicles you share the road with.
As we are finally having some decent weather we can get out and bike in, let’s not forget to do it safely, and if you are the type who would rather drive a vehicle to enjoy the scenery, please don’t forget about the rest of us on bikes. Stay Safe!