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Ester Marsh column: Sharing the road with cyclists

We are now less than a week away from our 7th Annual Buck Hurley Triathlon! The pool swim will start at 7:30 a.m., with our first cyclist on the road less than four minutes later. The Buck Hurley Triathlon brings a whole community together to make this a safe, fun and exciting event. Cones will be out to keep our runners and cyclists safe. Side roads on these courses will have road blocks. It doesn’t mean you can’t get in or out to your house or church, you might have the wait a little bit before you can. The event should be done by 10 a.m.

Besides our amazing sponsors, we could not run this event without the support of our community, people and churches on our courses, Salisbury Police Department, Salisbury Fire Department, Life Church, Salisbury Rowan Runners and all of our amazing volunteers who donate their time to make this event a success. It’s a very humbling experience and I am proud to be part of such an amazing community.

As you might have noticed, more cyclists have been sharing the road, me being one of them. Coming from a country where cycling was our way of transportation, I got away from it since we don’t have bike paths like we do in the Netherlands. However, with the drive of the Salisbury Bicycle Coalition, much progress is seen on the roads. I am super happy about this — not just for myself and fellow cyclists, but cycling is a healthy and cheap method of transportation.

I want to thank you for sharing the road. I know its frustrating at times when you are in a hurry and get behind cyclists. But if they stick to road etiquette, your time waiting will be minimal. An active lifestyle is important for a healthy mind, spirit and body. Last week, I touched on swimming. This week, I am going to talk about cycling.

I have cycled my whole life and up to 17 years ago, participated in some triathlons. My neck disc got messed up and cycling was a thing of the past. I couldn’t be in that position for long and I couldn’t look up (a bit hard on a speed bike). After my second neck surgery, which Dr. Roy performed, I have been able to look up and now ride a speed bike again. I am just past my “first trimester” in my journey to the Half Iron Man in October and still feeling good!

I have been cycling some early Sunday mornings since the traffic is very light (also the reason we have the Buck Hurley Triathlon on Sunday morning) and a lot safer than any other day or time. So far, I have been pleased how the cars and trucks have shared the road with me, and I appreciate your effort to keep us safe.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Too many people are too involved in where they are going to not see cyclists or runners who are sharing the roads with them. Some tips for cyclists:

• Wear bright-colored clothing

• Use roads which are less traveled by vehicles.

• When no greenway or bike paths are available, try to avoid peak traffic times, if possible

• Ride with at least one buddy or a group. Safety in numbers.

• Respect the drivers — when you are the only one holding up a stream of vehicles, find a spot where you can pull off the road and let them pass. Not doing that will only make them angry and possibly cut someone off the next time.

• When crossing roads, pay attention. Even at intersections with stoplights, cars can turn right on red.

• When in a group, ride single file when cars are in the same lane. Respect them as you want them to respect you.

• When they give you the space, let them know you appreciate it and acknowledge them with a thumb up or wave.

Drivers:

• Give enough space to pass your cyclist. If you have to wonder if you are giving them enough space, you are too close.

•Slow down when passing.

• Cyclists (and runners for that fact) are not doing it to make your life miserable. And will you really be that much later if you have to slow down just a bit?

• Watch the hills. Flying over them can be a disaster when others are sharing the road. (Speed limit signs are there for a reason)

• Become part of this exciting community, which becomes healthier and more active each year and experience what many cyclists and runners already have.

I know people who have been hit by cars while exercising, including being driven over (and survived) by vehicles. Some of them did not survive the accident. I know people who had things thrown at them for sharing the road. And just the other day, one of my buddies, when running, got flipped off by a truck who purposely tried to hit him. But I also know a lot of people (including myself) who really appreciate you letting us share the road. And the next time you see a very bright yellow, green or orange “speck” on the side of the road, it might be me! And thank you for giving me space while I share the road with you. And remember, next Sunday, May 1, is our 7th Annual Buck Hurley Triathlon where we will be sharing the road from 7:34 a.m. to about 10 a.m.

Ester H Marsh, Associate Executive Director JF Hurley Family YMCA.

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