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Cyclists and motorists: Our shared roads

June 5, 2008
By Heather Sackett
The Adirondack summer is finally here and that means local cyclists and Ironman athletes are hitting the roads for training. Since drivers and cyclists are sharing the road, it means local drivers need to be more cautious and cyclists need to obey the rules of the road.

One of the main problems with road biking in Lake Placid is the town’s isolation. There are not many options for bike-riding routes. There are only three ways in and out of the town: state Route 86 to Wilmington, state Route 73 to Keene and state Route 86 to Saranac Lake. All three of these roads are supposedly bike routes and are marked with signs. However, all three are in a state of disrepair and so heavily trafficked that they are practically unsuitable for safe biking. In many places a shoulder is non-existent and where there is one, it is filled with potholes and sand. Sometimes, cyclists are forced to ride in the middle of the lane simply because the road conditions demand it. Drivers need to be conscious of this fact.

On the flip-side, cyclists, especially visiting cyclists who may be unfamiliar with the roads, need to recognize that drivers have places to go and it’s annoying to have to slow down because cyclists ride two or three abreast. Drivers should not be forced to slow down until they can determine that there is no traffic in the oncoming lane and it is safe to pass the cyclist, especially on roads that are very narrow and winding, like the Wilmington Notch.

Cyclists need to be aware that how they conduct themselves on the road reflects on the cycling and Ironman community as a whole. This is not just a park or a training ground; people live and work here too and they have places to go. Please be courteous and ride single-file and to the right of the white line whenever the road conditions allow it.

Also, those cycling should save chatting with fellow cyclists for areas where there is a wide shoulder that allows two to ride side by side without crossing the white line.

Drivers need to be repectful of athletes using the road and realize that arriving at your destination a few minutes behind schedule by slowing down out of courtesy and safety is far better than the alternative. The bottom line is this: No matter how much of an annoyance cyclists are, a person on a bike is no match for a vehicle. If a car hits cyclist, there is a good likelihood the individual on the bike will be killed. Drivers pulling trailers or boats should also be aware that the object they are towing is likely wider than their vehicle, so they need to give cyclists an even wider margin.

No cyclist, runner or triathlete wants to be training on the same highways as vehicular traffic. In the Adirondacks, however, this cannot be avoided. There are no bike paths, running paths or even bike lanes like those found in cities and suburbs. This very fact is what makes our area attractive to athletes. One of the best things about training here is that you get to bike and run on roads with beautiful scenic vistas and rolling hills. Unfortunately, those same roads are utilized by vehicles, which makes it a dangerous situation. Please, be safe this summer and give each other some space.

Heather Sackett is the Lake Placid News staff writer, two-time Ironman finisher and cycling enthusiast



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