Cyclists need to follow road rules

Visibility is key to being responsible cyclist

Chris Eggen offers a variety of safety items at his shop.

Photo by Emily Mentzer
Chris Eggen offers a variety of safety items at his shop.

MONMOUTH — Ever wonder who has the right of way at a stop sign, a bicyclist or a vehicle?

It may surprise you to know that bicyclists are under the same laws as cars when it comes to the rules of the road.

“They’re not pedestrians once they’re on two wheels,” said Chris Eggen, general manager of Veal Bikes Plus.

Educating cyclists — or maybe gently reminding them — about that fact is a goal among many in Monmouth, from Mayor John Oberst to Councilman Marshall Guthrie, from the police department to Eggen.

“We’d like to see them stopping at stop signs and riding a little more safely in town, staying off sidewalks in the downtown area,” said Darrell Tallan, Monmouth police chief. “We try and remind people that it’s dangerous to be riding on that sidewalk (downtown).”

Another thing police see a lot of is cyclists who don’t obey traffic signs, which is unsafe for the rider and others, Tallan noted.

To help get people back on track, Guthrie — who has been called a model cyclist by Tallan — has teamed up with the folks at Veal Bikes Plus and applied for a grant from the Monmouth Parks and Recreation Board.

If approved, the $500 grant will be used to offer bicycle safety courses for two groups: one for adults and youths 16 and older; another for those 16 and younger.

See bikes, Page 15A

“We haven’t heard the outcome yet, but I feel the proposal was well received,” Guthrie said. “If the effort goes well, we hope to expand beyond Monmouth into Western Oregon University and Independence.”

Eggen is an adamant supporter of safety. His No. 1 tip for adults is visibility.

“Put your lights on during the day, wear bright clothing,” Eggen said. “Reflective clothing is even better.”

Those older than 16 are not required by law to wear helmets, but Eggen said everyone should protect their heads.

“I don’t think people really realize how fragile a skull is,” he said.

Sometimes cyclists forgetting the laws is a matter of the time lapsed from when they last rode a bike, Eggen said, whether they’re adults just getting into the activity or they haven’t been on a bike in 10 years.

“A lot has happened in 10 years” when it comes to safety equipment and rules of the road, Eggen noted, adding that he finds “fair-weather riders” are often less safe than those who, like Guthrie, ride as a regular routine.

Tallan said he wouldn’t single out any one age level when it comes to cyclists not following the rules of the road.

“Anyone that rides a bicycle on the road needs to be very careful and needs to follow the rules,” he said.

Senate Bill 533 is on its way to the House of Representatives.

If passed, it would allow cyclists and motorcycle riders to “run” red lights if those lights do not detect the rider and change to green.

Guthrie does not see this as a problem, should the law be passed. It should not change how bicycle riders behave at most intersections in Monmouth or Independence, since there are few stop lights to begin with.

“Who hasn’t been in a car and waited as the light never changed to green,” Guthrie said. “Bikes are no different, except that it happens more frequently to cyclists stopped at intersections.”

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