Sharing the road with pedestrians and bicyclists

Martha Michels

Martha Michels, head of ESH&Q, wrote this column.

Now that the warm weather is finally upon us and bicyclists, joggers and walkers have taken to the roadways, there are increased chances of collisions with motorists.

According to a recent Fermilab Security case report, on March 30, an employee driving to work had a less than friendly verbal exchange with a non-Fermilab bicyclist. The encounter ended with the bicyclist putting his foot on the employee’s vehicle and the employee contacting security. On April 8, two employees were walking on Main Ring Road for exercise when they were nearly sideswiped by a vehicle.

We urge everyone to be aware of traffic safety and follow the Illinois Rules of the Road. These rules are enforced at Fermilab, and they apply to motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

Motorists should watch for pedestrians and bicyclists and respect bicyclists’ rights to share the road. Motorists should also remember that driving a little slower for a few minutes beats taking a chance you may regret for life.

Many have voiced concern that some bicyclists ride through stop signs without stopping or looking for oncoming traffic. There have also been complaints that some bicyclists ride more than two abreast, taking up a full lane or more. The Illinois vehicle code (625ILCS 5/11-1505.1) states that “persons riding two abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” Although riding two abreast is legal, the Illinois Vehicle Code also recommends riding single-file if possible. This is safer because it presents less chance of bicycles impeding traffic flow. Motorists must leave three feet of space when passing a bicycle. It’s the law.

The Fermilab Community Advisory Board has said that bicyclists impeding traffic have been an issue in the Fox Valley area. Batavia and Kane County Forest Preserve police have ticketed bicyclists whose behavior puts others at risk, and Fermilab has issued tickets to bicyclists as well. The penalty for bicycle moving violations is the same as for motor vehicle moving violations.

Fermilab promotes education and awareness through the Fermilab Environment Safety and Health Manual, traffic safety awareness training and Fermilab Today articles. The Fermilab gate guards also occasionally stop bicyclists to advise them of the Illinois bicycle rules of the road.

If bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians all comply with state laws, it will help keep the roadways safer for all.

For more information, talk to your supervisor or division safety officer, or visit the Traffic Safety Subcommittee Web page.