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April 21, 2016 10:16 PM

The Rules Of The Road

As the weather warms up, more and more riders will get on their bicycles and hit the trails and roads in Sioux Falls. Knowing the rules of the road could prevent deadly crashes like the ones we've seen in the past few years. Since 2010, more than 260 bicycle crashes have been reported. 

Spring has sprung and sunny, warm days have many dusting off their bicycles and getting on the city's trails. Others opt to join vehicles on the road. 

"More and more people every day are commuting to work on bicycles," Officer Robert Draeger said. 

A spot on 41st Street near the Empire Mall was the scene of a deadly car vs. bicycle crash last October. The incident has Draeger urging caution as activity picks up. 

"Even if you're in the right of way on a bicycle, you're going to lose if you tangle with a car," Draeger said. 

In this case, a man was riding on the sidewalk before colliding with a car trying to turn right onto 41st Street.  

The owner of Spoke-N-Sport and avid rider Chad Pickard says you need to be vigilant when on a bike. 

"There have been some deaths and it's very unfortunate and those deaths have been really worst case scenarios. A cyclist probably not riding where they should be and then a motorist not seeing them. It's unfortunate but it happens," Pickard said.  

Pickard rates the city an 8 out of 10 when it comes to being bike-friendly. He's had some close calls himself but he generally feels safe riding in Sioux Falls traffic. 

"You don't want to ride up and down Minnesota Avenue or 41st Street. There's certainly some areas where things bottleneck such as 229 on Minnesota Avenue, Cliff or Western. So there's some spots in the city that aren't good. Overall, I think it's pretty good," Pickard said. 

And getting better in his opinion. Pickard says in the past five years, vehicle drivers have become more accustomed to seeing riders in the road and in bike lanes. The latest gear, including strobing lights and reflective piping, is also helping riders be more visible.  The City of Sioux Falls has even posted an instructional video on its website regarding bicycle safety. 

"Motorists have been a lot more cautious around cyclists. We do have a three-foot passing law. So things like that have made people a lot more aware of cyclists. Hopefully cyclists are being more responsible. They're not on the sidewalks. They're on the roads where it's more safe and motorists are seeing them," Pickard said. 

There are even road markings to help.  A sharrow painted on the road means bicycles and cars are supposed to share this lane of road. So as more and more people start riding, be sure to pay attention to who is sharing the road with you.

"Ride as far to the right as you can. Remember if you're riding on the sidewalk, you have to stop your bicycle before you cross the street," Draeger said. 

One of the biggest tips, let people around you know what you're going to do. If you're driving a car, use your turn signals.  

"As a cyclist, use your hand signals. Let traffic know where you're going to go. Be predictable. Don't zigzag in and out of traffic," Pickard said. 

Don't forget to pack your patience. According to the rules of the road, everyone has a right to the city's streets. 

"Traffic.  It's bikes.  It's cars.  It's trucks.  It's motorcycles. We all have a responsibility to share with other users," Pickard said. 

And a responsibility to do it safely. 

Sioux Falls Police says bicycle patrols will start up in about a week. Officer Draeger says it's a good way to interact with residents and keep the trails and sidewalks safe. 
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