Farmington area cyclists push for safer roads; Bicycle Safety Bill helps

An article in last week's Daily Journal details the efforts of the Parkland Cycling Club to improve bicycling conditions in their part of the state. Besides the difficulties outlined in the article, two recent bicycle fatalities and a very serious bicycle injury have happened in southeast Missouri recently.

The article begins:
Emily Vasquez is on a mission.

And so are Virginia Blaine and Diana Dussold and the rest of the members of the Parkland Cyclists Club.

The group that formed to promote cycling is now on a mission to keep roads safe for bicyclists and they're talking to anyone who will listen.

“We've had club members yelled at to get off the road,” Vasquez said. “Diana (Dussold) got flipped over the hood of a car and her bike was totaled. Virginia (Blaine) has been honked at, given (a hand gesture) and told to get off the road on Pimville and get on a trail.

“Another member had a car pull over to her (she was riding in the shoulder) and a teenager leaned out of the window and yelled, ‘get off the road ...'”

They've had people sic dogs on them. Some people have had firecrackers, cans and bottles thrown at them.

“The worst incident was when I was riding south (on) the shoulder on Highway 67 going into Farmington and someone came halfway in the shoulder to see if he could scare me or force me off of even the shoulder,” David Rauls said.
The article details the provisions of Missouri's new bicycle safety bill, promoted by MoBikeFed and other advocacy groups around the state:
Cyclists do have the right to ride on the road.

In fact, in July, Gov. Matt Blunt signed the 2005 Missouri Bicycle Safety Bill, promoted by the Missouri Bicycle Federation and sponsored by Sen. Kevin Engler.

“Because cyclists often have to share the roads and highways with motor vehicles, the Missouri General Assembly this year enacted new highway safety rules to protect cyclists,” Engler said. “The legislation includes a number of measures relating to bicycle safety as well as the duties owed to bicyclists by motorists.”

For example, the act prohibits blocking or obstructing a designated bicycle lane with a parked or standing motor vehicle or other stationary object. Cars and trucks may be driven in a designated bicycle lane only for the purpose of crossing the lane or to provide safe travel.

If a driver must travel in or cross a designated bicycle lane, the driver must yield to any bicycle in the lane.

In order to reduce the number of collisions between motorists and cyclists, the law requires motorists overtaking a cyclist as they travel in the same direction to leave a safe distance when passing the bicycle and maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.

“Many roadways in Missouri were not designed to accommodate designated bicycle lanes, so cyclists are forced to share the roads with cars and trucks, creating potential hazards for both the motorist and the cyclist,” Engler said. “SB 372 allows bicycles operating at less than the posted speed or slower than the flow of traffic to operate on the shoulder adjacent to the roadway. The cyclist riding on the shoulder must travel in the same direction as other vehicles operating on the roadway.”

Finally, the act requires bicyclists to signal their turns, although the rider does not have to signal continuously by hand and arm if the hand is needed to control the bike.

“Cycling is a great form of exercise and a fantastic way to explore the beauty of the Show-Me- State,” Engler said. “These new bicycle-friendly provisions will help to ensure the safety of cyclists who share the roads with motorists and by reducing the potential for collisions.”