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Cycling in Fort Wayne: Tips to stay safe on the road

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Tips for Bike to Work Month from the city of Fort Wayne:

-Look at a street map to see if there is an alternate route to work that uses less-busy streets.

-Consider using the Rivergreenway or other trails for transportation.

-Drive to a trailhead and bike to work using a multi-use path.

-For people driving before sunrise and after sunset, remember to have front and rear reflectors and lights to increase visibility.

-Evaluate bike parking options at the workplace, including bike racks, or other outdoor structures where a bike can be secured or an indoor storage location.

-“Rack & Roll” with Citilink. All Citilink buses have bike racks on the front, making it possible to use public transit and a bike for the same trip.

-Consider bringing a change of clothes to work. Some employers may want to consider relaxing the dress code for bike commuters that day.

-Bike with co-workers or neighbors by organizing a predetermined starting point and time.

Highlighting some Fort Wayne bike laws

71.06 Operation of vehicles in roadways where bicycles are present:

-Drivers to exercise due care. Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human or animal power, upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn only when necessary; and shall exercise proper precautions when sharing the travel lanes with bicycles.

-Turning right in front of a bicycle. When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any highway, street, or road, the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking such bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at an intersection or at any alley or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle.

-Turning left in front of a bicycle. The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to a bicycle approaching from the opposite direction and which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.

-Passing of bicycles. The operator of a motor vehicle passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway, street, or road shall leave a safe distance, but not less than three feet, when passing the bicycle, and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle. (Ord. G-30-12, passed 9-11-12)

See more state and city bicycle laws here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 7:49 am

You've strapped on your helmet, the tires on your bike are pumped up and now you're ready to hit the streets, but do you know the rules of the road?

Understanding those rules is an important responsibility for cyclists and drivers alike. With help from the city of Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Police Department, you can follow these simple safety tips to travel around Fort Wayne responsibly.

Obey all traffic laws

If you're riding your bike on the road, you follow the same rules as a person driving a car. Yes, that means you need to stop at all stop signs and red lights. You also are required to use hand signals to notify other drivers when you are turning. When riding, always make sure to ride on the right side of the road and be predictable; that means no weaving in and out of traffic.

Fort Wayne Police Sgt. Mark Dolezal said the most common cycling mistake he witnesses are people running stop lights and stop signs.

“A lot of people are guilty of riding through stop signs on bikes. They think the rules don't apply, but the danger of that is if you run a red light or stop sign like anybody else you are liable to get into an accident,” he said.

Also, be sure to give the right of way to pedestrians. If you're riding on the trails, keep to the right and pass on the left. Don't forget to stop for cross traffic when riding on the trails.

Wear a helmet

The best thing you can do to ensure your safety is to wear a bike helmet. According to Bike Fort Wayne, wearing a helmet can prevent up to 88 percent of cyclists' brain injuries. That also means wearing your helmet correctly. Make sure your helmet is the proper size and snug when the straps are fastened. The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead — one or two finger-widths above your eyebrow.

Be visible

Are you using a headlight or rear lights in the early mornings and at night? Using additional reflective material on fenders and pedals can significantly increase your visibility. If you're looking for a quick, cheap solution to become visible on your bike, simply wear bright, colorful clothing. Stop out to Summit City Bicycles & Fitness or Fort Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot, for example, to check out the reflective neon yellow bike jerseys for optimal visibility.

Avid cyclist and Bicycle Friendly Fort Wayne organizer P.J. Thuringer said it's not uncommon to have a close call with a vehicle every now and then.

“The reason we don't have more bikers is because people don't feel safe,” he said. “I've had close calls. I just had one. I had a guy on a phone, then the next thing I know he was not far from my handle bar. But really, 99 percent of the time people are great.”

But Thuringer did highlight want very important fact. Fort Wayne is one of the very few cities in the country that has adopted the 3-foot law.

Remember the 3-foot law

A driver passing a bike must leave at least 3 feet between the vehicle and the bike until safely past the bicycle. Many bike-friendly communities have established “3-foot zones” to prevent serious accidents. Thuringer said if he could request one thing from a local driver, he would ask for patience. “You can't pass me right now, but in 20 seconds you'll be able to. It's not that big of a deal. People in Fort Wayne are kind, people understand. It's a rarity when I have a run-in (with a driver). The roads are safer than most people think,” he said. If you're still nervous about riding on the road, just hop on the trails. With 70 miles of trails throughout Allen County, riders can easily navigate around the city without even riding on the roads. (If you want to learn more about Fort Wayne's trail system, check out this story published in The News-Sentinel.)