By Terry Willis
Within a few hours two bicyclists were nursing injuries and feeling lucky to be alive on Monday. In the morning a cyclist was struck by an car driven by an driver exiting a bank drive-through at 180 East Main in Price.
Later the same day Pete Kilbourne was struck from behind by a vehicle while riding in the turning lane on Highway 6 near the turnoff to Carbonville Road. Fortunately for both cyclists, they were able to come away from the encounters with only pain and bruises.
“I am lucky,” said Kilbourne, “There was nothing I could have done different, but If I had been off to one side or another, I could have been thrown into traffic on the highway.”
Kilbourne was hit hard and was told by a witness that he flew up on the windshield of the car. Although he is standing and appears to not be seriously injured in the photo, he wants people to understand just how serious even a “small” collision with a cyclist can be. A few minutes earlier he had been laying on the ground. His recovery will take a while. He knows he might not have walked away from the collision if it had been a different vehicle such as a full-sized pickup.
Motorists need to realize that there are many other users who share the road with them. These include bicyclists, ATV riders, pedestrians and small scooter users who all use portions of the county and city roads. Safety for all must stay in the forefront of everyone’s minds while negotiating the roadways. Kilbourne puts several thousand miles on his road bike every year and has had his share of close calls, but overall he sees the attitude of motorists to cyclists improving. The biggest issue he worries about is those driving while engaged on their cell phones.
Price Police Captain Bill Barnes is also concerned about keeping the conflicts down between motorists and other users. He has responded to his share of accidents involving cyclists or pedestrians during his years on the force.
“Hyper vigilance is the key to reducing these accidents,” Barnes said. “This goes for both the motorists and the other users. The accident on Main Street could have been avoided by the driver with just a little more attention before he pulled out.”
Barnes said that private driveways need to be treated like they have a stop sign, even if they don’t. He said many motorists look for other cars, but fail to really see pedestrians or bicyclists coming. A big danger area for both bicyclists and pedestrians is when they are crossing with a light at an intersection. Many drivers fail to look for them as they make right hand turns.
Bicyclists are bound by the same laws as automobiles. A cyclist or an OHV has a right to be on the road and use a turning lane to safely negotiate traffic. They are to ride on the right hand side of the road with the flow of traffic. Riding a bike on the sidewalk may seem safer, but it affords less time for a car to see them as they approach a crossroad or intersection. Utah traffic code, Title 41 Chapter 6a, Section 1105, states that a bicyclist will stay as far right as possible except when it is hazardous to do so. Exceptions include going around fixed or moving objects, other bicyclists or animals and other road hazards including narrow roads.
“Even if you have the right-of-way, self protection and hyper-vigilance is a key to keeping yourself safe when you are walking, on a bike or an OHV in traffic.” Barnes added. “Being right will not help you when it’s you or a car.”
Price City has recently designated official OHV routes within the city limits. Other towns in the county have also allowed OHVs to be on city streets to access the multiple trail systems that surround the area. With those designations, there will be an increase of OHV traffic to share the roadways. Barnes said the Price City ordinance is geared toward going from a home or parking area to a designated trail head. He reminds the users that they are expected to obey the same traffic laws as an automobile. All safety rules should be noted, including wearing helmets and rider limits.
Pedestrians should always use the sidewalk if possible and can be cited for jaywalking if the street has traffic lights and a crosswalk.
If you are out walking or riding at night, bright, reflective clothing and lights can further make you visible to drivers.
City Engineer Gary Sonntag said that the city has been making efforts to reduce the places that pedestrians need to walk along the streets instead of sidewalks, but it boils down to money. They made a big push to get a sidewalk that runs from the Creekview Shopping center to the hospital. But Sontag admits they are still some areas that need to be addressed. The new county building construction will add sidewalks, curb and gutter to a stretch on 100 North. He added there is a program called Safe Routes to Schools that might be able to provide funding for sidewalks and bike lanes. The Carbon School District would have to identify and present those routes to the city so the funding could be pursued. Sonntag said that they have not done much with district on this matter, but he intends to follow up with them.
As for bike lanes or designated routes within Price City, Sonntag said that other than identifying them for the Recreation and Parks Master Plan, nothing else has been done. He knows the danger that cyclists face because he was hit by a car on SR 10 about four years ago. He said that riding on the city streets makes him nervous even to this day.
Kilbourne would love to find safer routes to ride on. He has been an active member of the Carbon County Trails committee and gave input on the Price City Recreation and Parks Master Plan. He also said there are times he is nervous about the riding paths available. The intersection where he was hit was one that has worried him for a while, but he does not see a safer way across if you ride from Helper to Carbonville.
Sonntag concluded that Price City is continuing its efforts to improve routes for walkers, bicyclists and ATV riders, but everyone needs to do their part to stay safe. Barnes and Kilbourne agree on that as well. All users of the road must do their part to stay aware of each other to lessen the chance of an encounter that will ruin your day or take a life.
Here is the link to the designated OHV routes within Price City