Thursday, February 26, 2009
By Annah Korpi
They come in all disguises—waitresses, lab partners, city officials, dedicated readers of comic books, fathers of small children. They are all around us and among us. You see them everyday—on a bicycle. Take Mary Nally who works at Village Bakery. She is a graduate student in environmental studies who can’t go without her bike.
“I feel most comfortable going 10 miles or less per hour,” she claims. The money she saves biking is a big motivating force, along with the greenhouse gas emissions she avoids. She also enjoys the greater sense of community when everyone is out and about, away from their cars.
If successful, Bailey Miles’ “bike share” plan may add to this sense of community by encouraging more students to bike. Bailey, a senior biological sciences and Spanish double major, became inspired during his study-abroad experience in Barcelona, Spain where bikes are docked at stations throughout the city. He is collaborating with a group of students and the Athens Bicycle Co-Operative to develop a proposal for a bike share at Ohio University.
“Bike sharing could be really successful in a college town. Buying a bike is expensive, and it is a hassle to transport a bike to and from campus on a car,” said Miles. While the bike share proposal is still in the planning stages, Peter Kostes, former president of the Athens Bicycle Club and owner of Athens Bicycle has a slightly different point of view.
“Although the cost of a quality bike might seem like too much money for the average college student, it’s next to nothing compared to the costs incurred by driving a car,” Kostes said. His shop sells both new and used bikes. Two additional local bike shops, The Pedaler and the Packer and Cycle Path, also sell bikes and bike gear.
A less expensive option, used bikes are available at the Athens Bicycle Co-Operative, a small gem tucked away in a corner on May Ave. Kept alive by dedicated volunteers, the co-op welcomes students and community members to come and fix bikes or just show up and work on their own. Eric Cornwell is the main mechanic for the shop. Both donated and abandoned bikes are collected, fixed, and sold to students at low prices.
“The co-op isn’t about making money. Its goal is to equip people with the help they need to keep riding,” says Cornwell.
Once students have a bike, they can easily find the best roads for biking with the help of the Southeast Ohio Bicycle Map, created by the Athens Bicycle Club and the Ohio University Cartographic Center.
It is a waterproof and tear-proof road map with roads in Athens and Meigs counties color coded by traffic levels and physical conditions. The Hockhocking Adena bikeway also appears on the map. The path was recently extended to the Super 8 Motel on East State St. It ends 18 miles later at Robbins’ Crossing in Nelsonville. The map is available at the local bike shops and Village Bakery.
Athens is en route to making its own uptown roads biker friendly. The town has a number of bike lanes—on Richland, Court, and Congress streets. While many people think the city just has to “slap some paint on the road” to create those lanes, it isn’t that easy, says Athens street director Andy Stone. Bike lanes have to meet two criteria: there is a high demand from cyclists and there is a hazardous traffic situation. There are engineering principles, Ohio state laws, speed limits, and intersections to consider. A committed cyclist, Andy plans for more bike lanes in the future. He is part of a committee formed by the city called Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Group. Comprised of city officials, university staff, and community members, the group is working to create a comprehensive plan to enhance the biking opportunities in town. It is even considering hiring an outside professional to assess the city’s biking infrastructure and help produce a bike plan.
If a committee isn’t for you, there are still plenty of ways to participate in Athens’ bike culture. There are two biking clubs on campus: the Mountain Bike Club, whose members might be found riding on the Sells Park trails, and the Cycling Team.
“Ohio University has a lot of talented, experienced riders, and the Athens area benefits from some great training areas and support from the general population,” says Dan Zeitler, president of the Cycling Team.
Critical Mass is another informal group that invites all bikers to meet on the college green the last Friday of every month and take a group ride through the city.
“The goal of the movement is simply the celebration of cycling,” says Cornwell.
Athens has plenty to celebrate. The bikeway, trails, and back country roads in Athens lure many cyclist to come to Southeast Ohio for a ride. However, there are still many cyclists who have yet to experience all that Athens has to offer. “It’s a secret—pretty well hidden,” says Geoff Morgan, a community member, who can be seen transporting his seven-month-old daughter on his bike. The secret is out now; so get your bicycle map today and take a ride!
Monday, February 9, 2009
§ 4501.01. Definitions.
A bicycle is defined as a vehicle and thus is governed by a uniform set of rules common to all vehicles and a small set of specific rules for bicycles. (There are other specific rules for other vehicle types, such as trucks or busses.) The annotated list here summarizes the most important parts of the traffic rules and equipment rules that govern bicycle driving. People who try to make up their own rules have an accident rate five times higher than knowledgeable cyclists who follow the rules of the road.
§ 4511.07. Local traffic regulations.
The most important of the reforms passed in 2006 will require that any local regulations be consistent with the uniform rules of the road. In addition, signs are required of such local regulations. Unfortunately, there are still many ordinances inconsistent with uniform laws. Some of these bad ordinances mandate unsafe practices.
§ 4511.25. Lanes of travel upon roadways.
Some people think it is safer to ride on the left to "see traffic coming." This is illegal and wrong! Pedestrians walk facing traffic so they can sidestep off the road if necessary. But you cannot sidestep a bike. Riding on the left is both illegal and dangerous. Crash statistics show that wrong way riding has about 3½ times the risk as riding on the right.
§ 4511.27. Rules governing overtaking and passing of vehicles.
Since cyclists usually ride near the right side of the road, beginners are tempted to pass slow or stopped traffic on the right, especially in a "bicycle lane" with a painted line. Passing on the right is often dangerous and, in many cases, illegal.
§ 4511.36. Rules for turns at intersections.
The rules for turns are exactly the same for bicycles as for other vehicles – merge to the appropriate position (right for right turns, left for left turns), yield to any traffic that has the right of way and then turn. A cyclist also has the option to make turns as a pedestrian by dismounting and walking the bicycle through the intersection.
Getting into position for a left turn may involve merging across lanes of traffic. If traffic is heavy, you should start doing this early to take advantage of gaps in traffic. Otherwise, there may not be a gap when you need it. Beginners, who have not yet developed the skill to merge in traffic, may make pedestrian-style turns instead.
§ 4511.39. Turn and stop signals.
Never turn or change lanes without first yielding to any traffic that has the right of way, and give a signal if possible. However, skip the signal if your hand is needed for control or brakes.
§ 4511.40. Hand and arm signals.
Right arm straight out for right turns; left arm straight out for left turns.
§ 4511.55. Riding bicycles; motorcycles abreast.
It is not practicable (practice-able) to ride on the far right when passing or turning left; or when avoiding objects, parked cars, moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface or other hazards; or when the travel lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to pass safely side by side within the lane.
Many motorists are reluctant to cross a lane line when passing a bicycle. A cyclist who "hugs the curb" unintentionally invites motorists to pass with unsafe clearance. Riding near the middle of a narrow lane sends the message that passing traffic must use the next lane.
The real purpose of this law is to prevent unnecessary delay to faster traffic. Since the law cannot require unsafe operation, the phrase as close as practicable is highly flexible, varying widely according to conditions. Positions well away from the edge of the road can be in compliance.
Section 4511.55(B) allows riding two abreast. However, cyclists should avoid unnecessary delay to other traffic. Please be courteous and "single up" when other drivers wish to pass if such passing is safe and reasonable. There is no violation if any of the following apply: (1) If there is no traffic being delayed; (2) If the cyclists are traveling as fast as other traffic; (3) If traffic can reasonably pass by using another lane; (4) If the lane is too narrow or it is otherwise unsafe for passing.
§ 4511.56. Signal devices on bicycle.
You are required to have a red light in the rear of your bicyle and a white light in the front when riding at night. An unseen cyclist is in great danger. About 30 percent of serious cycling causalities occur at night although only about four percent of cycling is done then. The reflectors that come with new bikes are grossly inadequate for nighttime visibility. Always use both a headlight and taillight when you ride in the dark.
§ 4511.711. Driving upon sidewalk area.
Riding bikes on the sidewalk in uptown