Staying safe on the road in warm winter weather

A fatal car vs. bicycle accident Sunday morning has many people talking about the hot button issue of sharing roadways with cyclists and pedestrians.

Many have taken advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures the past few days to get outside. That means more people on the road and more frustration for drivers.

“Sometimes they make me a little nervous,” said Elkhart resident Sabrina Leader. “Sometimes the runner should be more aware of his or her surroundings because sometimes drivers can’t see you.”

But, it’s a two-way street. Certified Bicycle Safety Instructor Danny Graber says mutual respect is imperative between people on the road.

“Every bicyclist should ride their bicycles in the same way they drive a car,” he said. “And every motorist should respect a cyclist in the same way as if they were a vehicle.”

But just knowing the rules of the road isn’t enough. When people are sharing the road, Graber says they share responsibility. And that means people have to look out for more than just themselves.

“You still have to have it in the back of your mind that these people might not see me and the same with drivers,” said Elkhart resident Geoff Crist.

Cyclists and pedestrians should wear bright clothing at night so drivers see them on the road. They should also make sure they’re traveling in the appropriate direction – bicycles should always ride along the right side of the road, pedestrians on the left.

But the biggest safety precaution people should take is simply paying attention.

“Please do not be distracted in any circumstance,” Graber said. “At any given point, if any person is distracted, there is potential for a crash and we bicycles are very vulnerable, pedestrians are very vulnerable.”

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