Brenda K. Davies: As bike month ends, some thoughts about Amherst

  • new modern bicycles selling in bike shop LightFieldStudios

Friday, May 31, 2019
As bike month ends, some thoughts about Amherst

May is National Bike Month, a good opportunity to raise important issues.

Do you wish you felt safer biking in Amherst? I talk to many people who want to bike but are too afraid, and many parents are reluctant to let their kids bike. Sadly, we’ve had our share of bike injuries and even deaths. We simply do not sufficiently support bicycling.

Take a look around our college town and you’ll notice the limited number of bike lanes. We seem to be constantly studying parking, when creating a bike-friendly town would reduce need for parking spots.

We’ve made some progress since Amherst’s first bike lanes were envisioned over 20 years ago. As we work for a more expansive bike network in Amherst, let’s keep the following safety tips in mind.

Drivers: Please slow down, rather than speed up, when passing a bike. With limited bike lanes, expect bikers in the road. State law states that bikers can use the full lane anywhere, anytime, and on almost any street. Be patient, stay behind or give at least 3 feet clear space if passing. Look for bikers before opening your car door. Look right, behind and all around for bikers.

Bikers: State law says you are required to use front and rear lights at night. Bikes are simply not seen without lights. Please wear a helmet and reflective and bright clothing day and night. Follow the rules of the road and always stop for traffic lights and stop signs.

Many New England college towns have created robust bike infrastructures. It’s time Amherst. We can do this.

Brenda K. Davies