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Just pay attention

This past weekend The News & Advance published a large feature on bikes vs. automobiles. This article, and an accompanying reader reaction question posted to www.newsadvance.com this week, were in response to a couple of recent bike crashes. While I don’t bike, I can relate to this story being a runner … and being a driver. Virginia laws are quite simple – bikers and pedestrians are allowed on roads unless otherwise posted. That should be the end of the story, but it’s not.

I’ve seen a lot of comments about people who “hate” bikers and say they shouldn’t be on the road. I am sure those same people say the same thing about runners who often opt to run on roads without a sidewalk. As a runner, I must admit that I KNOW that I can go to places like the Blackwater Creek Bikepath to jog. Bikers can go there as well. The problem is, even though there are plenty of entrances to the trail, it’s truly not a challenging place to run or bike. It’s one of those places to go to a few times a month to get a nice and easy flat workout. And yes, the trails are available too, but some of us, like myself, don’t like trail running that much. I do it maybe once a month.

So that leaves bikers and runners to the streets. Lynchburg’s streets are dangerous for everyone, including drivers. I think there are too many two way streets in the city’s older neighborhoods. While that’s another story for another day, it’s an issue for bikers and runners because drivers simply don’t want to slow down even in tight spaces. I, like many runners, will always use a sidewalk when it’s there, but there are a lot of streets around here that simply don’t have sidewalks. I’m not saying that we need more sidewalks, because some streets just aren’t built for them. But on roads that don’t have sidewalks, drivers need to be paying better attention for people who may be running, or even walking their dog … and bikers.

For drivers who have a problem with bikers and/or runners, I know what you want to say. Go to the trail, or stay where there are sidewalks. It’s not that simple. You need to get off your cell phone, stop eating in your car, stop driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, and pay attention. Cars and trucks aren’t the only things allowed on roads. Bikers need to obey the laws, use hand signals, stay out of the middle of the road, and … pay attention. Runners should run facing the traffic, stay out of the middle of the road, use sidewalks when they’re available, and … you guessed it, pay attention.
  1. Coach Dean
    June 14, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    We have much wider and clearer roads here in the Phoenix metro area and lots of bike lanes. Sharing the road is still a problem. I know several cyclists who’ve been maimed and killed on the roads. I’ve done the biking thing for 10+ years but I’ve been a runner for 37. You articulate well in your last paragraph EVERYONE’s responsibilities. Good stuff. Now… can we all just get along?
    Coach Dean

  2. Anonymous
    June 19, 2007 at 9:54 am

    I am not a runner or biker, only an occaisonally walker. Fortunately here in Bedord we have the “Loop”, that is used for walkers and runners. It is unfortunate that people seem to be in such a hurry and don’t have any respect for others. Good article, and I will be following your runs. Sandra Angel

  3. David Hylton
    June 19, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks for the comment mom! I actually wrote a short piece on the loop last month – it’s somewhere below.

  4. MBusse
    June 19, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    I agree completely. Lynchburg is woefully short on safe places to walk/bike/run, unless you get into your car and drive to the trails. I’ve never lived somewhere where the roads are so narrow and the lack of sidewalks is so great. This issue has been historically neglected by city planners and needs to be more thought out in all future endeavors. If more people felt like their safety wasn’t in jeopardy, we might have more families going for walks together after dinner, more kids out on bikes instead of in front of computers and more neighbors that become better friends through unplanned time outside.

    I’ve had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind for some time to organize a local non-profit for these types of issues (driver awareness, community sidewalks, etc.) I’ve even thought it could be named, “Lynchburg Walks”.

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