Just pay attention
This past weekend The News & Advance published a large feature on bikes vs. automobiles. This article, and an accompanying reader reaction question posted to www.newsadvance.com this week, were in response to a couple of recent bike crashes. While I don't bike, I can relate to this story being a runner ... and being a driver. Virginia laws are quite simple - bikers and pedestrians are allowed on roads unless otherwise posted. That should be the end of the story, but it's not.
I've seen a lot of comments about people who "hate" bikers and say they shouldn't be on the road. I am sure those same people say the same thing about runners who often opt to run on roads without a sidewalk. As a runner, I must admit that I KNOW that I can go to places like the Blackwater Creek Bikepath to jog. Bikers can go there as well. The problem is, even though there are plenty of entrances to the trail, it's truly not a challenging place to run or bike. It's one of those places to go to a few times a month to get a nice and easy flat workout. And yes, the trails are available too, but some of us, like myself, don't like trail running that much. I do it maybe once a month.
So that leaves bikers and runners to the streets. Lynchburg's streets are dangerous for everyone, including drivers. I think there are too many two way streets in the city's older neighborhoods. While that's another story for another day, it's an issue for bikers and runners because drivers simply don't want to slow down even in tight spaces. I, like many runners, will always use a sidewalk when it's there, but there are a lot of streets around here that simply don't have sidewalks. I'm not saying that we need more sidewalks, because some streets just aren't built for them. But on roads that don't have sidewalks, drivers need to be paying better attention for people who may be running, or even walking their dog ... and bikers.
For drivers who have a problem with bikers and/or runners, I know what you want to say. Go to the trail, or stay where there are sidewalks. It's not that simple. You need to get off your cell phone, stop eating in your car, stop driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, and pay attention. Cars and trucks aren't the only things allowed on roads. Bikers need to obey the laws, use hand signals, stay out of the middle of the road, and ... pay attention. Runners should run facing the traffic, stay out of the middle of the road, use sidewalks when they're available, and ... you guessed it, pay attention.