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City strives to make roads safer for cyclists

The Capital: City strives to make roads safer for cyclists

After safety effort, police will warn night riders without lights

By SHANTEE WOODARDS, Staff Writer
Published 10/22/09

Bikers have rights on the road, too, and city officials will spend the rest of this month reminding motorists of that fact.

This weekend, the city police and transportation departments will launch the first of a series of efforts to educate the public on bicycle safety.

And next week, police officers plan to step up their efforts and issue warnings to bicyclists riding around at night without front and rear lights. A safety rally is planned for Oct. 29, offering bike repairs and giveaways.

"We thought as daylight-saving time is coming to an end, it was a good time to promote a winter cycling campaign," said Iain Banks, the city’s transportation and parking specialist. "It’s unfortunate that about 3 percent of cycling takes place after dark, but about 50 percent of (cycling deaths) occur during the night-time hours, and that’s primarily due to not using lights."

These two different campaign efforts are part of an ongoing outreach to promote bike riding in the city. Its Bike Annapolis program aims to encourage residents to bike more often.

Previously, city workers started implementing "sharrows," pavement markers that remind motorists to share the lane with bike riders.

This week, they were set to be placed on Rowe Boulevard between College Creek Bridge and Calvert Street, and placed about every 250 feet along that roadway.

The markings are typically placed on roadways that don’t have enough width or right of way to install a bike lane. Sharrow lanes are different because they are shared with bikers and motorists.

"As a whole, bicyclists tend to be, for safety reasons, wearing reflective garb and bright colors - trying to make themselves as obvious as possible," said Heather McColl, executive director of the Annapolis Regional Transportation Management Association.

"People used to see cyclists as one or two here. We’ve actually seen a cultural shift in this area where more often than not you’ll see a cyclist on the road."

This weekend, city police officers will have checkpoints set up downtown as part of the Give/Get Respect campaign.

Tomorrow, officers will be at Duke of Gloucester and Compromise streets distributing fliers educating cyclists and motorists about proper behavior on the roadways. On Saturday, officers will be doing the same at King George Street and Route 450. Both are areas with high bicycle traffic, officials said.

This campaign will be done several times a year with three goals: teaching motorists to share the road; educating cyclists not to ride on the sidewalk and to ride in the direction of traffic; and to educate police officers about the laws that protect cyclists.

Next week marks the beginning of the Be Bright, Be Seen initiative. During that time, city officials will work with the Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team to get across safety messages to cyclists as it gets closer to the end of daylight-saving time, which is Nov. 1.

At the Oct. 29 bike safety rally, the first 80 registrants will get a free set of bicycle lights. About 20 more sets of lights will be distributed randomly during the rally at Market Square. So far, 125 people have registered for the event. Also at the rally, workers from Bike Doctor, Capital Bicycle and Eastern Mountain Sports will provide tune ups and help mount the light sets. This is expected to be an annual event.

"In addition to being dangerous to bicyclists themselves, the lack of lighting is a hazard to pedestrians and motorists," Doug Shapter, president of the Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team, said in a statement. "It’s a shock for everyone when a bicycle suddenly appears."

The city’s bike safety rally will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at Market Square. For more information, call 410-263-7964 or visit www.annapolis.gov/BikeAnnapolis.