Recently I attended a speech class presentation at the University of Minnesota Morris. The topic of the presentation was bicycle safety in Morris. I think the students did a great job, and as a City Manager, I went away from the speech with a few good ideas about things we could do differently.
I won’t get into the details of their presentation, but I will share some of my thoughts on the topic. The most important thing is education. It might be a simple statement to make, but it does require some effort on everyone’s part. We need to do a better job in city government of putting out the right information. The public then needs to do a better job of using that information.
Some of the questions the students raised included things like riding on sidewalks, running stop signs and needing a light at night. I didn’t have the answers then, and I don’t right now, but I will get them and find a way to share them with you. The point is that everyone riding a bicycle should know the rules. The students didn’t.
Recently, the City of Morris had its annual bike rodeo for kids. This is put on to specifically explain biking rules to young people. I must admit that it has been a while since I was a kid and I didn’t attend this event, but if we can educate kids, we can educate adults too. Everyone has to take the time to learn.
Education also pertains to vehicle drivers. You have to know the rules of the road because of the operation of your vehicle, but you also have to be aware of others on the road to include pedestrians and bicycle riders. Everyone is in a hurry, but safety requires that everyone should pay attention. And be patient! Sometimes we just need to wait.
Do I think it is safe to ride a bicycle in Morris? Absolutely. When I was little, just about every kid got around on bicycles in town. Today is no different. You can ride your bike anywhere if you take the time to learn how to do it safely.
I ride motorcycle and anyone who does knows that you have to assume that others don’t see you. Because of the things I do while riding, I feel safe. The same holds true for riding bikes. Don’t assume the other person knows the rules. And don’t expect the police officers to be around to watch out for you either. They can’t be everywhere.
One suggestion the college students talked about was bike routes. Their conclusion, and I agree, was that routes probably weren’t practical. There are too many things to consider when trying to designate them and set them up so they can be used. My argument is that riders, for the most part, probably won’t use them anyway. People go where they want to go. You just need to be careful wherever you go. A route won’t protect you.
If you want to ride a bike in Morris, do it. Just be smart about.