Sgt. Kevin Malugen of the Missouri State Highway Patrol knows the importance of bicycle safety from both sides.
Through his assignment to the patrol’s major crash investigation unit, Malugen has seen the results when accidents happen.
And, as a cyclist, he knows the importance of sharing the road with vehicles.
Malugen believes the rise in the number of bicycling accidents the last two or three years is not due to any one factor or incidences.
“It’s just the volume of riders,” he said, noting the increase in recent years of road cyclists.
Bicycles are entitled to use city roadways the same as motor vehicles.
Malugen was one of a group of the cyclist gathered outside Trans Am Cyclery for the annual Memorial Day ride. Most agreed Farmington tends to be a bicycle-friendly community.
Part of the increase in cycling in the area could be contributed to the positioning of Farmington on the Trans-America Trail as well as Al’s Place, the bicyclist hostel located in the former county jail.
When it comes to the laws of the road, bicyclists are required to use arm signals when making a turn and to obey stop signs.
Missouri Statute Chapter 307 covers the rights and duties of bicycle and motorized bicycle riders. It states, “Every person riding a bicycle or motorized bicycle upon a street or highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle as provided by chapter 304, RSMo.”
Cyclists are encouraged to ride as near to the right side of the roadway as is safe, riding side-by-side only when it does not impede other traffic.
Farmington Police Chief Rick Baker said cyclists can ride two or three wide as long as they are not impeding traffic – moving to a single-file line at that time.
Cyclists riding in a group often use the phrases “car-up” or “car-back” to alert fellow riders to on-coming traffic and transition to the single-file line.
The one traffic rule exception for cyclists is regarding stoplights. The cyclist are required to come to a stop. However, sensors used to change the light from red to green may not pick up the presence of a cyclist. If the intersection is clear and safe, the cyclist may proceed through a red light.
The patrol’s guide can be found athttp://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/Publications/Brochures/documents/SHP-446.pdf
Riding bicycles on a sidewalk within a business district is prohibited under the patrol’s regulations.
Farmington has an ordinance in place mirroring the state statute.
Ordinance RSMo 300.347, titled “Riding bicycle on sidewalks, limitations—motorized bicycles prohibited,” states, “No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district. “Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian. No person shall ride a motorized bicycle upon a sidewalk.”
Tony Blackwood, owner of Trans Am Cyclery, provides customers with a check list of essentials for every cyclist, along with the patrol’s bicycling guidelines.
One of the top items on the list is a helmet.
While wearing a bicycle helmet is not required by state law, it is the most effective way to protect oneself in the event of an accident.
According to the patrol, between 70 to 80 percent of fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries and bicycle helmets are 85 to 88 percent effecting in reducing total head and brain injuries.
Malugen said safe bicycling involves good choices made by both the cyclists and drivers on the road and each being aware of the laws for both.
“It’s a two-way street. Bicyclists have to obey the laws as well as the motoring public,” he said.