As temps rise, residents should be aware of road rules

Steve Kime rides along near the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. In this time of year both cyclists and motorists need to be safe. Herald file photo

Steve Kime rides along near the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. In this time of year both cyclists and motorists need to be safe. Herald file photo

Summer’s in season, which means more bicyclists and pedestrians outdoors.

It also means there’s more safety issues to watch out for.

“It’s a two-way thing,” Austin Police Capt. Dave McKichan said. “Both parties in the streets can help each other out.”

The city of Austin has focused on bicyclist and pedestrian issues as more people get out on the road.

ah.01.14.aCity workers just finished painting bike lans on Fourth Street from First Avenue Southwest to the Turtle Creek Bridge, and the city could expand the use of bike lanes as more bicyclists get on the roadways.

Steven Kime, co-chair of Vision 2020’s Bike/Walk Trails Committee, said the city and Vision 2020’s recent pushes for bicyclists end up benefiting more people on the roadway.

“That’s key to safety, is just that awareness and knowing that bicyclists need to be aware of cars and cars be aware of bicyclists,” he said.

That awareness is key, according to McKichan. Drivers are encouraged to notice bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists who use the road. At the same time, bicyclists and pedestrians need to understand basic road rules and safety issues to keep traffic flowing.

“You see it across all ages, but the rules of the road apply to everyone,” McKichan said.

Vision 2020 has ramped up its bike safety efforts in recent years. Volunteers held a Bike Safety day in May, during which more than 190 bike helmets were given away. According to Kime, volunteers gave away another 30 helmets during the YMCA’s Y Kids Fest event several weeks ago.

In addition, the group has worked with the city and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to plan routes and trails to area schools through MnDOT’s Safe Routes to Schools program.

MnDOT instructors will visit Austin Public Schools this fall to teach bike and pedestrian safety curriculum to area teachers, according to Kime.

“I think that’s going to be a huge alternative,” Kime said. “Introducing kids on how to be safe, that’s the key in that it’s not just biking, but it’s general safety and participating in things.”

Of course, parents are encouraged to teach their kids about bike safety early, and Austin police encourage bicyclists to follow road rules such as stopping at stop signs and keeping with the flow of traffic.

As the summer progresses, police and Vision 2020 volunteers hope area residents remember to watch out for others.

“Be safe,” Kime said. “This is a busy time. Kids are going to be out and about on their bikes, running and playing.”

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