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How to cycle and run safely on Ridgefield’s roads

Connecticut law requires no less than three feet of space when passing a cyclist or runner.

Connecticut law requires no less than three feet of space when passing a cyclist or runner.

It’s springtime in New England and everyone is outside to enjoy it; the hustle, bustle and traffic on our historic and scenic roads are evidence. Connecticut is home to healthy, active people, which means there are runners, walkers, cyclists and motorists out and about enjoying the fresh air together.

Fortunately, Connecticut state law says all of these people have to share our beautiful roads. So how do we keep everyone safe? Here are basic tips for people on foot, pedals and behind the wheel.

With mutual respect and courtesy, we all make this a better town to live in.

Cyclists

  • Ride to the right in the same direction as the flow of traffic.
  • You can ride two abreast on quiet roads and single file on narrow or busy roads. Always fall into single file when a car approaches from behind.
  • Signal turns and when stopping. Observe stop signs, traffic signals and right of way.
  • Choose correct lanes at intersections and stop when directed.
  • Be predictable. Ride to the right in straight, smooth lines. Do not swerve in the road. Anticipate hazards and adjust your position accordingly.
  • Be visible. Wear brightly colored clothing. Use a red flashing light on the rear of your bike, white on the front.  Day or night, use a light.

Runners/Walkers

  • Unless there is a sidewalk, a runner should ride against the flow of traffic, staying close to the curb when there are motorists present.
  • Anticipate blind corners and move across the road well ahead of the turn. Return to correct side well after turn. Look to cross safely.
  • On tight or narrow roads, make eye contact with the driver. Waving or stretching your hand out will alert them if they don’t see you.
  • If you must wear a headset, keep volume so that you can hear surrounding noise or use only the ear piece on your curb side of the road.
  • Running at dark or dusk? Wear reflective clothing and a headlamp or other light.
  • Connecticut state law says that if there is a sidewalk available you must use it.

Motorists

  • Drive cautiously. Look for cyclists and runners when approaching an intersection, turning or changing lanes. Better yet, look twice.
  • Reduce speed when encountering cyclists and runners.
  • Yield to cyclists and oncoming runners and walkers.  Bicycles are considered vehicles and should be given the right of way. Allow extra time for cyclists to traverse intersections.
  • Pass with care. Connecticut law requires no less than three feet of space when passing a cyclist or runner. That is just about half the width of your vehicle. Wait for safe road and traffic conditions before you pass and check over your shoulder before moving back.
  • When making a left turn, an oncoming cyclist has the right of way and motorists should give them time to safely clear their path.

The basic rule of “treat others the way you want to be treated” applies here. If you are in your car, think about when you would feel safe for a car to pass if you were on your bike. Cyclists should also use this logic and ride single file when a car approaches from behind. Runners should make yourselves known, the same courtesy you would appreciate when you are behind the wheel of a car. Be the driver, runner or cyclist you want to see out there.

It’s a great town with great people. It’s a pleasure to share the road with all of you.


Jacqui Dowd is the owner of Ridgefield Bicycle Company and president of Ridgefield Bicycle Sport Club with more than 240 cycling members. Megan Searfoss is founder of Run Like a Mother, is a distance run coach,   triathlon coach, cycling coach and an avid runner, cyclist and motorist.

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  • David

    One trend I’ve noticed lately, when I’m driving and there is a bicycle in the oncoming lane, and a car is also approaching in the oncoming lane, that oncoming car too often thinks it’s a good idea to swerve over into my lane.

    No!

    If there is not enough room for an oncoming car to pass the bicycle, then the oncoming car has to slow down and wait. DO NOT COME INTO MY LANE!

  • Secondhand Rose

    David, what you request is actually already LAW — when a person is driving in a lane with an obstruction, whether it be a parked car, a tree, a garbagecan, a dog, kids, or a jerk on a bicycle — they are supposed to slow down and/or stop and wait until the oncoming lane is CLEAR and THEN pass the obstruction by crossing the lane divider until they’ve passed it.

    Frankly I think cyclists should be banned from public roadways altogether, since they are more of a distraction and root cause of near-accidents than texting or talking on a cell phone have proven to be. Bike parks and paths need to be created to get these people off the roads. If cyclists want to use the public roadways, then let them be registered, insured, licensed and taxed same as automobiles.

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