2005-05-20 / News

Some Practical Safety Rules for Island Cyclists

By Leslie Rott

On an Island without cars, the only way to get around is by horse, bicycle, or to rough it on foot. Most people find a bicycle provides the most practical and economical way to travel the Island, however, so a few good rules are in order.

Rule number one is to pay attention to the rules and to the road in front of you, said Debbie Andress, who works for Ryba’s Bicycle Rental. Disoriented by their new surroundings, and thinking that, without cars, common sense on the road is not needed, visitors, she notices, often forget that pedestrian and bicycle traffic poses the same hazards as motor vehicles.

2. The sidewalks are for pedestrians; city ordinances ban bicycles from the sidewalks. “People on the sidewalks, bikes on the road,” chants Lois Roach, who works at Orr Kids Bicycle Rental.

3. Stay away from horses and pedestrians. Believe it or not, they have the right of way.

4. Stay on the right side of the road.

5. Park bicycles close to the curb, inside of the white line. Do not park in places that say “no bicycle parking.”

6. Be careful of steep hills and pay attention to signs warning to walk your bike. Out-of-control bicycles on hills are a large cause of accidents, some serious.

7. Don’t speed, especially in heavy traffic or down hills. Riders have died in bicycle accidents here, which leads to the next rule.

8. Wear a helmet to protect your head.

Ms. Roach added that parents need to be in control of their children and that cyclists have to watch out for young children, who may run out into the road. Young bicycle riders, not used to riding in busy streets, often turn in front of passing or oncoming bicycles.

Ms. Andress adds that she tells customers to be mindful of senior citizens. She also advises parents not to leave their children unattended on a bicycle, as some have a tendency to fall over.

Both Ms. Roach and Ms. Andress agree that parents tend to get defensive over the type of bike their children can ride. Ms. Roach said that if renting from Orr Kids, children have to clear the handle bars to be allowed to ride the bike. Ms. Roach points out that here on the Island, children need to be able to have their bike in control and must often stop at a moment’s notice, owing to the heavy traffic of horses, pedestrians and other cyclists.

“What they ride at home is different than what they ride here,” said Ms. Andress.

The best advice they could give?

Ms. Andress said, “We stress safety.”

And Donny Sorenson, one of the owners of Mackinac Island Bike Shop, said the best advice he can give cyclists is to “watch people who aren’t watching for you.”

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