30 seconds - It's the amount of time of a commercial here on Region 8, but it's also how long it might take a driver to wait for a safe passage around a person on a bicycle.
On behalf of the NEA Bicycle Coalition and your friends and neighbors who ride, I want to take a few seconds of your time to talk about safety.
People who ride do so for many reasons - exercise, enjoyment and transportation. The number of people who chose a bike as their primary vehicle is growing nationwide. Did you know, the millennial generation is the first to have fewer driver's licenses than its predecessor.
The majority of drivers in Jonesboro and the surrounding countryside are courteous.
However, a growing minority target people on bikes.
And target is the right word – they swerve at us, scream to get off the roads, throw objects . . . And worse.
Our community leadership reminds us that this is a caring city, but I can tell you without hesitation that fear of these drivers is keeping more and more citizens off the streets.
Cyclists fare best when they are treated like and behave as vehicles. And in Arkansas, like every state in the union, they are considered vehicles under the law.
Speaking of the law, in Arkansas, motor vehicles must pass a minimum of three feet away from a person on a bike or earn a ticket and a fine. And if a driver hits a cyclist, the fine jumps 10 fold.
In traffic, we behave best when we realize the other vehicle isn't a car, or motorcycle, or bicycle – it is another person.
So the next time you are in a hurry - think about 30 seconds. Before you crowd someone on the road, make a blind pass on a hill or a curve or force an oncoming driver to slam on their breaks or swerve into a ditch, ask yourself, are the seconds you are saving worth hurting someone?
The life you save as a driver might just be your own.
Following the law and being more considerate drivers will definitely make this a Better Region 8.
- Bill Smith, NEA Bicycle Coalition board member
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