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August 18, 2014 09:55 PM

New Perception Of Bikes Can Make Riders Safer

Sioux Falls, SD

Frustration and concern continues to mount with the high number of crashes in Sioux Falls involving cars and bikes.

On Monday night, Sioux Falls Police officers and avid bike riders joined together to help educate both bikers and drivers about the rules of the road.

"As our city gets bigger and it gets more riders and more walkers, then they're out there and that is, I think, creating the conflicts," cyclist Michael Christensen said.

Everyone is trying to do their part to help Sioux Falls become even more of a biker-friendly community, including biking instructors and police.

"I think meetings like this offer greater awareness. They allow the community to dialogue with police officers and also with people that are community leaders and potentially planners," Officer Joel Dalton said.

Dalton is a Sioux Falls Police officer and also an avid cyclist. He said he sees too many riders putting their lives in danger every single day.

"Riding your bicycle on the sidewalk and not coming to a complete stop as you enter a crosswalk. You have to stop, look both ways and proceed through that intersection. That's the biggest one," Officer Dalton said.

The perception of bicycles will need to change as well. Christensen says that more people need to see bikes as vehicles, just like any other car or truck. Moving from the sidewalk into the road is the biggest way to change that perception.

"We're getting the message out that cycling is safer if it's done safely, predictably, visibly on the roadways. It's where drivers are looking," Christensen said.

Both bikes and cars are bound by the rules of the road, and Christensen believes that once more people feel comfortable sharing the road with cars, drivers will be more comfortable with bikes, bringing the conflict down.

"It is a big perception barrier of moving from sidewalk to road that's difficult to overcome," Christensen said.

Beyond meetings like this, there are education courses people can take to feel more comfortable on the road. The Sioux Falls City Planning Office is also updating its bike plan through an online survey

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