Sounds of silence for fallen cyclists
KINGMAN - Two years ago, Daryl Patterson was riding his bicycle when a truck made a left turn, hitting him and causing him to land on the truck's hood.
"I would imagine that he didn't notice me with my big, bright yellow shirt there," Patterson said. "In the end, he must of hit the breaks pretty fast and I ended up on the hood of his truck then on the ground."
Luckily for Patterson, he was able to walk away with no lasting injuries. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, 19 cyclists were killed in 2010 while riding bicycles on Arizona public roadways and another 1,583 were injured.
Today, Patterson will join an estimated 60 local cyclists, who will join the tens of thousands nationwide for the 10th Annual Ride of Silence to honor cyclists who were killed or injured while riding on public roadways, and to raise awareness that motorists need to share the road with cyclists.
"If you are riding a bicycle, you are a vehicle on the road, the same as a car," Patterson said.
The ride starts at 7 p.m. today at Kingman Academy Middle School on the corner of Beverly and Harrison roads and takes riders south on Harrison Road until they get to Andy Devine Avenue. From there they will take a right onto Andy Devine until they reach Johnson Avenue, there they will turn right on to Johnson and then right on to Stockton Hill Road until they reach Airway. Riders will then make a right on Airway and another right back on to Harrison until they return to KAMS.
The ride is open to anyone interested. The only requirements are the signing of a wavier and a helmet.
For Bonnie Tomlin, who is putting on the event, the ride holds special significance. Her husband Dick was killed in 2005, after being struck by an RV while he was riding his bicycle on Route 66 near the airport.
"This is the one thing I do that helps raise awareness and helps honors Dick, and all those cyclist that have been injured or harassed," Tomlin said. "People get angry at bicyclists, and sometimes bicyclists are jerks, and sometimes they don't obey the law. But we have a right to be out there. I would like to look at it as a partnership between the bikes and the cars."
A lot of problems are cause by a lack of understanding the rules of the road. One of the biggest misconceptions people have is thinking that cyclists belong on the sidewalk.
According to Arizona Revised Statue 28-812, "A person riding a bicycle on a roadway or on a shoulder adjoining a roadway is granted all the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of vehicles."
When Patterson had his accident, one of the first questions from the police was if he was riding on the sidewalk. According to Patterson, had he been then he would've been at fault.
"A lot of them will say, 'Why isn't that bicycle on the sidewalk,'" said Patterson, who has been riding for the past 25 years. "A lot of motorists don't realize it's not legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk."
In 2003, ADOT established the bicycle and pedestrian plan with the main goals of increasing bicycle and pedestrian trips, improving cyclist and pedestrian safety and improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
However, according to ADOT, the number of pedestrians killed has fluctuated from a high of 172 in 2006 to a low of 122 in 2009 to 155 in 2010. The same is true for bicyclists, going from a high of 29 in 2006, to 19 in 2008 and then jumping up again to 25 in 2009 before falling once again to 19 in 2010.
While bike lanes help reduce the number of fatalities on public roadways, not all roads have bike lanes, which puts bicyclists and motorists too close for comfort.
"Most of the roads here have no shoulder or they are very narrow and motorists don't understand that if a car is coming you can't push the bicyclist off the road," Patterson said. "You have to wait for the on-coming car and then get past the bicyclist."
According to ARS 28-735, "When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle or not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle."
Ernie Negrete has seen cyclist riding the fog lines. However, he feels this puts cyclist in even more danger.
"If you can ride the shoulder, but if you feel like there is too many rocks and debris and the city doesn't sweep it up, then maybe you should choose another route," he said.
Negrete has been riding for the past 10 years, the last eight while living in Kingman. During his eight years in Kingman, a car mirror has brushed him twice.
For Negrete, his biggest piece of advice for cyclists is simply knowing your surroundings and knowing your outs, while at the same time making sure you have flashing lights on. Putting more than one light on a bike and wearing a reflective vest can help. Negrete also has a mirror on his bike, just to give him an extra second if he needs to get out of the way.
"For the longest time I (did not want a mirror) because it didn't look cool," Negrete said. "But after I rode a lot more, I changed my mind as it may give me that extra chance to bail out."