Challenges of using a bike in the Cape Region
If you talk to a group of people about the rules of the road for cyclists, you are bound to get many different ideas of why accidents happen and what is and what is not allowed on the roads.
In the Rehoboth and Lewes areas, there has been an influx of individuals on bikes over the last 20 years, and that number seems to be increasing every year. The most logical reason for the rapid increase is the growing population in our area puts more people on the roads. However, it is not just one reason; it is a combination of issues. Let’s dive into a few issues that need to be addressed when it comes to cyclists and accountability.
In the summer months, the weather is nice enough to use a bike for primary transportation; for many seasonal workers and vacationers, a bike is how they get around. Many of our seasonal workers come from other countries and are not familiar with our traffic patterns and traffic laws; this can result in accidents.
It seems like every year there are cyclists killed by motor vehicles in our area. The state has done an adequate job of setting up checkpoints to help educate individuals on how to ride safely on the road, but not everyone abides by the rules.
I see cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road all the time, running stop signs and red lights.
Cyclists have to obey the traffic laws just like a motor vehicle. When a cyclist does not follow the rules of the road, the chances of an accident increase.
It is not just our foreign workforce that is not obeying the rules of the road. I see a lot of older individuals who may not have spent much time on a bike since childhood having a hard time obeying traffic laws on a bike.
Part of it may be lack of knowledge, but I think another part may be lack of confidence or ability on the bike. If you are going to ride your bike down to the beach, make sure you can stop the bike under control and ride in a straight line before getting on any highly trafficked road.
Cyclists are not the only ones who need to be educated. Individuals behind the wheel of a car need to understand the rights of a cyclist as well to help reduce the number of accidents and altercations.
Most drivers don’t understand cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast.
Many drivers get frustrated if a cyclist gets in their way, and tensions rise. It does not help in our area that most people drive way too fast and are too aggressive when the roads are congested. All of this increases the risk of altercations.
What can be done to improve the situation?
With limited ability for infrastructure growth of new roadways, many individuals are forced to ride bikes to get into town. Lewes and Rehoboth have taken steps to increase specific routes for cyclists by turning old railroad tracks into trails, but our area is still behind in what is needed to handle the amount of people on bikes. The more bikes you can take off major roadways, the safer it will be for cyclists. Both towns need to continue exploring options to expand and/or create new cycling-specific roadways.
Towns need to be consistent with enforcing rules of the road for cyclists and motor vehicles. We need cops in intersections on holiday weekends in town and out on Route 1 to keep the flow of traffic moving for cars and cyclists. They need to be fining individuals who don’t obey traffic laws no matter if it is a car or cyclist.
Learn the rules of the road. Knowing what is allowed for cars and cyclists will greatly reduce incidents on the road. Education is important, but the most important thing to remember is to be patient on the road. Riders and drivers will do dumb things, and the most important thing is getting to where you are going safely. Take your time and be courteous to each other.