As nice weather arrives, more Weston residents are eager to get outside to go for a jog or walk with the kids and the family dog on a leash. Cyclists are getting their exercise enjoying the freedom and beauty of the Weston spring countryside.
The trick is to do it safely.
On a beautiful spring day, Weston resident Ed Hutchins, an avid cyclist, was enjoying an afternoon ride noticing the increased walkers and bikers on the roads. Not all were practicing good safety.
Mr. Hutchins noticed that many were walking incorrectly on the wrong side of the road. "This time of year," he said, "with the bright sun and shadows, black and gray colors are not the best choice to wear. To be safe when walking, jogging or biking it is best to wear bright colors. I also noticed a number of kids riding bikes without a safety helmet."
Fortunately, said Weston Police officer Rob Curcio, despite "the increased pedestrian and bike traffic on the roads, there has not been an increase of incidents, because of the decreased car traffic on the roads during COVID sheltering."
Tips for cyclists, walkers, and drivers
Office Curcio suggested that cyclists and walkers give consideration to avoid walking and biking on roads with hills and poor sightlines like Old Redding and Godfrey Roads. State roads like routes 57 and 53 have bike lanes. He suggested staying off Georgetown Road. A favorite road for cyclists is Lyons Plain road, because it is flat and has a good line of sight.
Officer Curcio also urged vehicle drivers to have a heightened awareness of the increased pedestrian and bike traffic by staying off cell phones and not texting while driving.
Ray Rauth, who served as the chair of Weston’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee for five years, walked every public road in town, evaluating roads that could be suitable for active transportation.
One product of the committee's work is the bicycle awareness signs on state roads and, to a degree, reduced lane width from twelve feet to eleven, giving more room to cyclists and pedestrians.
The committee also developed school bike safety courses and twice briefly closed most of School Road to automobiles for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Special tips for bicycle riders
Mr. Rauth offered the following advice to both walkers and cyclists:
Always wear a helmet when biking or as an avid cyclist. In Connecticut, the bicycle helmet law requires anyone under the age of sixteen to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. Your helmet should fit correctly and meet safety standards set by the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Everyone walking, running, or cycling should wear bright-colored clothing. Fluorescent colors stand out the best.
Have reflectors on the front and rear of your bike. Install white lights on the front of the bike and red reflectors on the back. A rear flashing red light makes it easier to be seen by cars approaching from behind.
Motorists must follow the law that requires allowing three feet between cars and bicycles.
All cyclists should be careful when riding past a parked car. Allow space for the car door to open.
If you stop along the road for any reason, be sure to pull yourself and your bike off the road.
Cyclists must always yield to pedestrians.
Cyclists are reminded that riding more than two abreast is against the law, except in designated bike lanes. Those riding two abreast cannot impede normal movement of traffic.
Be courteous, and yield the right of way to a car or another cyclist.
Use hand signals to alert cars of your intention to turn.
Be predictable on a bike and stay alert. Do not wear earbuds and listen to music or podcasts. Electric cars are so quiet that you cannot hear them coming behind you.
Slow down and look for cars backing out of driveways or turning.
Weston does not have many sidewalks, but where there are sidewalks, bikes must stay on the road.
Walkers and runners should be on the side of the road facing traffic. You want vehicles to be coming toward you. If you walk at night, wear reflective clothing and a light that an oncoming car can easily see.
Bicycles are classified as vehicles and riders as drivers. Riders must obey the same traffic rules as drivers. Stop at stop signs and at all stop lights. Do not run through them.
Officer Curcio said most bike accidents occur at stop signs and lights because the bicyclist did not obey the stop sign and the driver of the car did not see the cyclist.
Ed "Hutch" Hutchins