Legislature gets into safe-cycling act

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Local bicycle enthusiasts plan a special event to promote their event in connection to National Bike Month, with special emphasis on National Bike to Work Week May 14-18 and Bike to Work Day May 18.

They hope to compliment the work done by local insurance agent, Linda Maiden, with a bicycle rodeo for kids, local bicycle shop Tinker Tom's, the Toy Box, the McCook Cycling Club Facebook group, and others. Plans include a safety checkpoint and bike repair/adjustment workshops and other activities, but we'll have to wait to see what all transpires on May 5 in Norris Park.

Perhaps they can add a session on bicycle security, to help counteract the bicycle thefts we've been noticing in the police reports. Is some sort of a serial number-recording system or other tracking program in order?

Bicycling should be a no-brainer for anyone worried about maintaining their physical and financial health -- we've noticed premium gasoline prices far north of $4, and burning calories instead of hydrocarbons makes sense for all of us.

Now the Legislature is getting into the act in a small but important way, passing a law 45-0 to require motorists to keep a safe distance -- at least 3 feet -- away when passing bicyclists and personal mobility scooters. Violators face a traffic citation and $500 fine.

The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Tom Hansen of North Platte, who introduced the bill after several residents in his district were struck by vehicles, including a music teacher who was jogging and two bicyclists. One cyclist, Levern Walter, was killed in a hit-and-run collision last year. The other, Martin Cordes, was flown to a Denver hospital last year with a broken pelvis, arms, ribs and back.

"We need to share the road, and we need to make Nebraska a more bike-friendly state," Hansen told the Associated Press. "In town, we have the sidewalks -- not a problem there. But it's out in the country that people are walking and biking for exercise."

Actually, we don't have the sidewalks in town -- bicycles should be ridden on the streets and obey traffic laws the same as cars.

But we do have the walking trail which can be used for bicycling, and are looking forward to seeing it extended farther -- from H Street south -- in the near future.

So good luck to the bicyclists in promoting their activity, and a reminder to drivers: Giving cyclists extra room isn't just good manners, soon it will be the law.

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