Horrigan Stresses Bicycle Safety

(L to R): Shelly Wells, Public Health Planner of the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services; Vince Horrigan, Chautauqua County Executive; Mike Donner, Manager of the Jamestown Cycle Shop; two members of Women on Wheels; Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller, group founder of Women on Wheels; Linnea Carlson of Chautauqua County Health Network; Sam Teresi, Mayor of the City of Jamestown; and Captain Robert Samuelson of the Jamestown Police Department.

Article Contributed by
Office of the Chautauqua County Executive

Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan recently visited Jamestown Cycle Shop to announce bicycle safety tips as part of his 100 Days of Summer Safety Campaign.

“Across Chautauqua County, bicycling is become more and more popular and it is important that drivers share the road with cyclists and slow down, especially in heavy traffic areas where cyclists may not be as visible,” said Horrigan.

“I want to thank County Executive Vince Horrigan for spearheading the 100 Days of Summer Campaign and specifically, for highlighting the issue of bicycle safety,” said Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi. “As part of our Complete Streets and Greater Jamestown River Walk initiatives, we are anticipating and hoping for a significant increase in bicycle traffic throughout the City. Keeping people safe as they cycle and interact with cyclists is a top priority. The 100 Days of Summer effort is a welcomed and important way to call to attention the importance of utilizing the proper safety equipment and knowing the rules of the road when travelling throughout New York’s great Pearl City.”

New York State, Chautauqua County, Jamestown, Dunkirk, Lakewood, Fredonia, and most recently the Village of Cassadaga have Complete Streets Policies or Ordinances. This means that when roadways are developed and maintained in these areas, there is consideration of all users – pedestrians, bicyclists, people with disabilities, motorists, and transit users of all ages and abilities.

“Improving bike safety is a two-way street for drivers and cyclists, and the 100 Days of Summer Safety Campaign is a great way to work together,” said Ann Morse Abdella, Executive Director of Chautauqua County Health Network (CCHN). “CCHN is a strong advocate of Complete Streets because promoting biking, alternative transportation options, and improved streetscapes creates positive impacts on health, our environment, our roadways, and the overall quality of life in the community. County Executive Horrigan, Mayor Teresi, and the City police department should be commended for their efforts to implement Complete Streets policies and education that make Chautauqua County and Jamestown healthier places to live, work, and play.”
“Luckily incidents involving bicycle accidents are not a common everyday occurrence in the city of Jamestown but when they do occur they usually involve driver inattention or rider error,” said Jamestown Police Captain Robert Samuelson. “Bicycle operators are urged to obey the rules of the road and to always wear the proper protective equipment. Vehicle operators are reminded to always be alert for bicycle riders and to always allow them proper space when they are being passed on roadways.”

Bicyclists have the right to share the road and travel in the same direction as motor vehicles. Drivers who encounter cyclists on the roadway are required to do their part to pass safely, which often includes moving over and slowing down as they pass them. Drivers should also be aware that a cyclist near or in front of them may react to road hazards, which could cause a sudden change of speed or lane position. It is also important for drivers to check their blind spots before they make a turn, parallel park, open a door, or leave a curb to make sure a cyclist is not approaching from behind.

Cyclists have responsibilities too. Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians, and other people on bikes will do next, and ride predictably yourself. Signal turns, and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes. Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and other road hazards. Ride in a straight line, and don’t swerve between parked cars.

Cyclists should ride in a bicycle lane if available. If no lane is available, they must stay near the right shoulder of the road, and not on the sidewalk. Wrong-way cycling is a leading cause of car-bike crashes. Bicyclists have all the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle; this includes stopping at stop signs and obeying traffic signals.

“Bicycling, whether for transportation, fitness, or recreation, is a fun and healthy activity that can be further enjoyed with family and friends,” said Women on Wheels cycling group founder Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller. “When cycling in a group, never travel more than two side-by-side, keeping in mind that by law, you must ride single file when being overtaken by other vehicles.”

By law, cyclists and passengers ages one through thirteen are required to wear a helmet. Helmet use is recommend regardless of age as it drastically lessens the chance of suffering a serious brain injury in a crash or fall. Bike helmets should fit properly and be worn level so they cover your forehead; and straps should always be fastened.

“To find the right size helmet, put the helmet on your head without fastening the straps; the front of the helmet should be level and two fingers width above your eyebrows,” said Shelly Wells, Public Health Planner of the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services. “Shake your head from side to side; there should only be a little movement.”

Cyclists should keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times and not carry any item that would prevent them from controlling their bicycles. They should avoid distractions such as texting while cycling and should keep their eyes on the road at all times so they are aware and alert of traffic in front and behind them.

Cyclists are encouraged to be conspicuous and visible on roadways by wearing bright or reflective clothing. When visibility is poor, use a front white light, red rear light, and reflectors.

“Local bikes shops provide cyclists with the gear and maintenance needed to get out there and have a fun and safe cycling experience,” said Jamestown Cycle Shop manager Mike Donner. “Whether it is picking out a helmet, lights, or other gear, or making sure your bike is safe to ride, our staff at the Jamestown Cycle Shop are always here to help.”

The 100 Days of Summer Safety Campaign was announced by Horrigan in May and it challenges residents to practice safety from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend. During the months of June, July, and August, he will partner with county officials to raise awareness about important safety tips and precautions for residents and visitors to take while they enjoy family vacations and recreational activities this summer.

“By making safety a top priority this summer, residents can help do their part in preventing tragedies such as automobile, motorcycle, bicycle or boating accidents,” said Horrigan. “Residents are encouraged to make it their mission to be responsible, be aware of their surroundings, address safety issues and educate others on practicing safety. By stressing safety during these summer months, it is my hope that residents will get into the habit of making safety their number one priority and continue to practice safety all year long.”