Bikes and Cars Must Share Roads

Letters / Jul. 22, 2010 1:28pm EDT

As days lengthen and temperatures rise, more people are heading to Vermont's roadways to bicycle, walk, and run. I'm writing to urge all roadway users (motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, equestrians, etc.) to be courteous to one another. Our roads will be safer and our moods will be brighter if we give each other the same level of respect that we would like to receive. Here are a few points to keep in mind as you travel about in upcoming months:

The Vermont Drivers Manual calls for a minimum of four feet of clearance when a motorist passes a bicyclist. More important than the actual amount of clearance, however, is the need for the motorist to pass all "vulnerable roadway users" with care.

Vermont law requires bicyclists riding at night to have a white light on the front of their bicycles and a red reflector on the rear. It's also a very good idea to wear something that is reflective when cycling after dark.

As role models for children, adults can do much to promote healthy behavior. An example of such behavior is wearing a bike helmet. Helmets provide important protection against a variety of injuries, including traumatic brain injury.

Bicyclists increase their safety when they wear bright, snug clothing that can be seen easily from a distance.

Bicyclists have the right to ride two abreast, but only when they are not impeding the "normal and reasonable flow of traffic." The #1 motorist complaint about bicyclists is the failure to ride single file. Bicyclists can do a great deal to improve public perception by observing the law and riding single file when in traffic.

Because bicycles are regarded as vehicles by law, it's important for bicyclists to follow the rules of the road by riding on the right and obeying all traffic signals and signs.

If you would like to learn how to be more comfortable bicycling in traffic, change a flat tire, shift smoothly, pedal up and downhill safely, and much more, consider registering for Traffic Skills 101. For information on course dates and locations, call the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition at (802) 225-8904 or email

Be safe and have fun as you walk, run or pedal in our beautiful Green Mountain state!

Nancy Schulz

Vt. Bike & Pedestrian Coalition


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