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Monday, April 11, 2011

SPRING IS SOMEWHAT IN THE AIR- A (BRIEF) REFRESHER ON THE RULES OF THE ROAD

(Authors Note: This is my first blog entry ever.  For someone as young as me, 27, that must be some sort of record in this day and age.  Anyway, I would like to take this time to thank the one person who I know for sure will read this, or at least say she did - hi mom!)

            Well, it is kind of/ almost that time of year.  From my window right now I see rain, clouds and wind, but it is April in Wisconsin- Spring Classics time!  (Even if the only cobbles I tackle are the 5-foot stretch on State Street by Miller Brewery- but I own those cobbles!)
            Time to dust off the road bike, clean it up and take it out for a spin. Oh how fun it can be to take your bike outside for a nice ride in (hopefully) nice weather!  Side note- it is, sometimes, fun to ride in not nice weather- just last week I was caught out in some sleet, which hurt, but motivated me beyond belief to peddle really fast and tear up those last 10 miles, which I did in record time, and promptly congratulated myself with piping hot coffee and a long hot shower.  But I digress…
             Anyway, just like your bike might need a tune up before you take it out, you too may need a refresher on some basic rules to abide by while riding your bike outside.  (Especially since the only rule when riding on the indoor trainer is don’t tell your friends if you somehow manage to fall off, or that you are watching Robocop 3, which you own on DVD.)
           
            1)            Remember to signal when turning and/or suddenly stopping or slowing.  A cyclist must use his or her left arm to signal and must do so continuously during the last 50 feet traveled before turning.  Signaling does not have to be continuous if the hand is needed to control the bicycle.  Also, a signal to indicate stopping or slowing is not needed when a cyclist is approaching an official stop sign or traffic control signal.[i]
                        Signals[ii]
                        a) Left turn or U-turn- hand and arm extended horizontally
                        b) Right turn- hand and arm extended upward
                        c) Stop or decrease speed- hand and arm extended downward

            2)            Obey traffic signals and watch for uncontrolled intersections.  A bicycle is considered a vehicle[iii], and therefore must obey all traffic controls and yield the right of way to pedestrians at marked/controlled and unmarked/uncontrolled crosswalks and intersections.[iv]
            There is one small exception for traffic signals controlled by vehicle actuated intersections (lights that only change when vehicles are present in one direction or another)- a cyclist may proceed through a red light at an intersection IF the cyclist has stopped at the red light for at least 45 seconds and no other vehicle is present, and the cyclist reasonably believes the traffic signal is vehicle actuated.
           
            3)            Remember to ride as close as practicable to the right hand edge or curb.  Don’t worry if you forget this rule at the start of your ride, because sure enough one of the cars out on the road will remind you with a pleasantly loud honk and/or a friendly “buzz by”.  There are a few exceptions to this rule.[v]
                        a) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
                        b) When preparing for a left turn or U-turn at an intersection or a left turn into a private road or driveway.
                        c) When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions, such as but not limited to, parked cars, animals, pedestrians or surface hazards (think potholes, especially this time of year).       
           
            Those are some basic and not all encompassing rules of the road to get you started for the cycling season, whether you are a professional/amateur out for a training ride, pretend professional, weekend warrior, or a casual cruiser.

            Here is to hopefully a wonderful bicycling season.  Enjoy the ride.  Yay bikes!!!


[i] See Wis. Stats. §346.34(1)(b), §346.34(2)
[ii] See Wis. Stats. §346.35
[iii] See Wis. Stats. §340.01(5)
[iv] See Wis. Stats. §346.23(1), §346.24(1)
[v] See Wis. Stats. §346.80(2)(a)

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