Share the Road Responsibly

By Guest Contributor

Middlebury’s latest effort to become more bike friendly and safe includes the addition of “sharrows” stenciled on downtown streets to remind motorists that they “share the road” with cyclists when there are no or inadequate shoulders or bike lanes.

Motorists should remember that cyclists need to claim the center of the road to enter rotaries and to navigate left turns. Cyclists should utilize shoulders and bike lanes whenever possible. When not possible, cyclists have the right to use the traffic lane. Cyclists must observe the same rules of the road that cars must observe when using roads. This includes riding in the same direction with cars (not opposite them), signaling turns, and yielding to pedestrians and joggers.

The absence of shoulders along narrow Main Street means that cyclists need to decide to “share the road” with cars if they are confident riders or become pedestrians if they wish to feel safer by hopping off and walking (not riding) their bikes along sidewalks and crosswalks.  The “Walk Your Bike” stencils along downtown streets are there to protect the higher volume of walkers using these sidewalks to shop and visit.  Cyclists, especially young ones, may ride their bikes along sidewalks beyond downtown in Buttolph Acres and along Route 7 towards the school, but must yield to walkers and anticipate motorists at driveways.

College students must use care as they cycle downtown and bear right onto Academy Road at Twilight Hall following the direction of traffic and then left at the light onto Main Street. Cyclists should not continue riding against traffic on College Street beyond the “Do Not Enter” signs where it becomes a one way street just before the Town of Middlebury Offices and Samas.

Cyclists should ensure their visibility with bright, reflective clothing and use required headlights at night. Fines of up to $50 can be assigned for riding without lights at night or against the flow of traffic.  Of course, cyclists should protect their own safety by wearing helmets, anticipating the opening of car doors, and making eye contact with motorists.

Submitted by LAURA ASERMILY,member of the Middlebury Energy Committee.