Pushes pedaling for a variety of benefits: economy, exercise, environment

Fort Wayne, IN--- The City of Fort Wayne is sharing the road with the National Bike Month effort in observing May as a month to utilize bicycles for transportation.

“We have several community partners who join us in recognizing the increasing importance of the bicycle as a viable way to get around town,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “Whether someone is looking for a way to avoid high gasoline prices, add a little exercise to their routine, or reduce a carbon footprint, bicycling has grown into a popular outlet for people of all ages. As more bicyclists take to the roads, however, we need to ensure that both motorists and cyclists—indeed, all who share the road--- understand the shared responsibility.”

Cyclists and motorists abide by the same “rules of the road.” In order to keep the roads safe for all users, motorists should use extra caution and patience when driving alongside cyclists. When passing a cyclist, wait until there is enough room to keep at least three feet of space between the side view mirror and the cyclist. Cyclists are encouraged to follow a predictable path rather than weaving through traffic. Riding in the right-side of the travel lane is a safe practice since it keeps the cyclist visible to motorists and still gives motorists room to pass when the lane is clear. Cyclists are required to obey traffic signals and signs at intersections, and they are encouraged to signal turns and lane changes with their hands. Cyclists can also improve their safety by wearing bright and highly visible clothing when they ride.

Mayor Henry knows Fort Wayne's cyclists face challenges when riding for transportation. To change this, the city is implementing Bike Fort Wayne, a plan to improve the biking experience on city streets and create a bike-friendly community. In recent years, Fort Wayne has added to its bicycle infrastructure in several ways: through adding bike lanes and sharrows, signage, and parking facilities. Bike lanes on Rudisill Blvd. now connect Foster and McMillen parks. Downtown, on Wayne and Berry Streets, bike lanes make it easier for cyclists to reach their favorite destinations. A bike lane is a lane designated strictly for cyclists; motorists are only to cross over the bike lane when necessary to access a parking space or a driveway. Parking is not allowed on a bike lane. The City installed shared-lane markings, or “sharrows,” on Hanna St. as visible reminders to motorists that cyclists use the roadway and to help cyclists know where in the street to ride. Convenient and secure bike racks are another important way to invite people to “Ride their Drive.”   This spring the City will nearly double the inventory of 150 public bike parking spaces at destinations throughout the city.

Many events and opportunities await bike riders in the month of May, including Bike-to-Work Week 2011 from May 16-20 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 20. Details on both events will be shared in the coming weeks. Bicyclists who want to learn more may check out the calendar of events on the Bike Fort Wayne website, www.cityoffortwayne.org/bikefortwayne.