Jurich: TMACOG sponsors annual Bike Week, May 12-22Written by Stacy Jurich | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s May Day. Winter is gone, (April) showers are nearing an end and the sweetest smell of spring is in the air. It’s the time of the year when bird songs break the still silence of the morning, bees are pollinating the first flowers of the season and making delicious and nutritious honey and pollen, and more people are out on bicycles for recreation and transportation.
Spring is also the time when the number of orange barrels on the roads begins to rise exponentially and coincidentally road traffic increases as humans come out of hibernation and travel more. Warm, sunny weather also seems to make people want to drive faster with louder music. Pot holes from winter, construction and automobiles are also not favorable to safe bicycling. Bicycle commuters, however, are not faint-hearted and will still be on the road.
According to state and local law, bicycles are permitted to be on the road and have the same rights as a (four-wheeled) motor vehicle (Toledo Municipal Code 373.01), including use of the full lane (TMC 373.07). It is important that the bicyclist occupy more lane than just hugging the curb, because often there are potholes, sewers and other hazards that need to be quickly dodged.
Many bicyclists prefer streets instead of sidewalks for faster and undisturbed riding flow and to avoid objects, pedestrians and dogs that tend to be on driveway edges and sidewalks. Also, bicycles are more visible to a motor vehicle operator pulling out of a driveway when they are riding in the street with traffic as opposed to riding on the sidewalk.
In some areas of Toledo, like business districts, bicycles are not permitted on sidewalks. When you pass a bicyclist on the road, be sure to allow a passing distance of at least three feet. It is, after all, the law: “When a motor vehicle overtakes a bicycle, the safe passing distance shall be not less than three feet.” (TMC 331.03) If there is a car to your left and a bicyclist to your right, wait until the car passes, scoot over and then pass the bicyclist, instead of trying to squeeze between a fast moving vehicle and a fragile human.
Why bike? Bicycling is the most efficient mode of transportation. It takes approximately 100 calories to power a bicycle for three miles, but that would only power a car for 280 feet. Bicycling uses a renewable resource as fuel (food) and emits no pollutants. It is also efficient in that the mass of energy powering the bicycle is exercising while running errands or going to work. The health benefits that come from bike riding are a built-in bonus that Americans could benefit from. About two-thirds of all Americans drive and 60 percent of American adults are at risk for diseases associated with inactivity. Bicycling can and should be used for errands within five miles of the home. This could lead to less stress and an overall increase in well-being.
May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, promoting bicycle education and advocacy and a bicycle-friendly America.
We can celebrate the beauty and benefits of bike riding locally during TMACOG’s Bike Week, May 12-22. There are many events including the Ride of Silence on May 18, Bike to Work/School Day on May 20 and my favorite, the Bicycle Extravaganza at the Toledo Farmers Market on May 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Slow down and smell the tulips, the Dogwood flowers, rosebuds, grass, mud and fresh air. Slow down and watch the bees, listen to the birds, say hi to your neighbors. Slow down and be nice to bicyclists.
For information about Bike Week, visit www.tmacog.org/bikeweek.htm.