By: Forest Dramis
As some of you know, the Tuesday Night Ride was pulled over by Town Police recently. This incident provides us the opportunity to discuss how cyclists conduct themselves in the public eye.
In the state of Wyoming, bicycles are vehicles. And while that entitles bicycles to the same rights to the road as that of motor vehicles, it also requires the same adherence to the laws of the road. In this incident, the law that the group ride did not follow was that ALL vehicles must stop at all stop signs. When riding alone, or with a couple friends, it is very easy to come to a complete stop at a signed intersection, wait your turn, and proceed. In a group of 15-25 riders it becomes more difficult. With a group that large, having every rider come to a complete stop becomes quite difficult, and would probably cause more confusion and danger in the intersection. That said, the law states every rider must come to a complete stop. We were in the wrong. Period.
In our discussion with the officer on the scene, he was very polite, very professional and was understanding of the above limitations of riding in a large group. His "suggestion" to us was simply this: DO A BETTER JOB THAN YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW.
We are not doing a good enough job. We will do a better job.
Generally speaking, riding north is the time when most stop sign/intersection issues arise. In the future, we will take Spring Gulch north so as to avoid these issues and interact as little as possible with in-town traffic. Also, riders on the front of the group through signed intersections will come to a complete stop and ensure that the group is yielding the right of way when necessary.
Another issue that we've received complaints about is lane occupation. We need to be much more aware when cars are held up behind the group due to our riding three or more abreast. This happens constantly on Fall Creek Rd rides, and elsewhere. We have tried to be vociferous when this occurs. In the future we will be even more vociferous. When you hear someone announce that there is a "Car back!" everyone needs to move over and be courteous. We can not impede traffic, we should not be discourteous to drivers, and there is no reason not to move over.
BIKE LANE ETIQUETTE
Almost every ride in Jackson includes pathway. We have historically done a good job being courteous and using good pathway etiquette. Recently we received an email complaint from a person we passed through the pathway tunnel near Skyline. While I do not believe we did anything wrong in this instance, it's a good chance to remind us all that tunnels require extra diligence and attention. No one should ever be over the center line though a tunnel. No one should ever be passing in a tunnel. We should announce our presence either verbally or with a bike bell. Everyone should be riding with a bell. Everyone. It is the safest and most effective way to announce your presence to other pathway users. Don't have one? Get one. Can't afford one? JHCycling will give you one for free.
Like it or not, the Tuesday Night Ride is highly visible, both to drivers and law enforcement. The way we conduct ourselves is on display and is a large part of how drivers view cyclists in Jackson. We all know that cyclists do not have a great reputation in Jackson. Group rides are our opportunity to change this.
Be courteous, follow the rules of the road, and be a good steward of our sport.