USA Pro Cycling Challenge a good time to review cycling rules

The British are coming, and so are the French, the Germans, the Americans and many other nationalities for the Aug. 20 start of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

The community has planned a full weekend of events, beginning with the Tutu to Brew on Thursday and ending with an all-day Race Day Festival at Buckley Park on Aug. 20. A full list of events and information about road closures and parking is available at www.Durango2012.com.

The international riders, especially those from European countries, are not the example to follow when riding in the United States. Drivers and citizens have much more tolerance for bicycle riders in Europe than in the U.S.

The organizers of this event are anticipating very large crowds in Durango, especially on the day of the race.

With all that is going on during this event, the Durango Police Department would like to remind local residents and visitors to be patient with traffic congestion.

We understand there are conflicts between cyclists and drivers, and an event like this can escalate those conflicts.

With that in mind, now is a good time to remind everyone of the rules surrounding motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

For cyclists

Bicyclists have all the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle and can be penalized for violating traffic laws.

Ride in the right lane, except when passing another vehicle, preparing for a left turn or avoiding hazards. Always ride with the flow of traffic; never against. Ride on the paved shoulder whenever possible.

Ride single file. Ride two abreast only when you are not impeding traffic (front or rear) or when all cyclists are on the shoulder. On curving canyon roads, play it safe and ride single file.

Obey traffic laws, signs and signals. Use hand signals to indicate left or right turns, slowing or stopping.

Use a headlight, taillight and reflectors at night.

Make eye contact with drivers. Never assume drivers see you or that you have the right of way. Expect the unexpected; your first responsibility is to avoid a crash.

Always wear a helmet.

For drivers

You also need to obey traffic laws, signs and signals.

The Bicycle Safety Act requires drivers to give cyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing. It also allows drivers to cross the center line, when it is safe to do so, to pass a bicyclist. If you cannot pass a cyclist safely, take a deep breath and wait to pass until it is safe for you, other drivers and the cyclist to do so.

Throwing an object toward a bicyclist is a misdemeanor, and driving toward a bicyclist in a dangerous manner is a careless-driving offense.

Make eye contact with cyclists. Never assume that they have seen you. Your first responsibility also is to avoid a crash.

For pedestrians

Walk toward oncoming traffic so that you can see a driver or a cyclist.

Never assume that you can walk across a crosswalk without first checking to see that crossing traffic has stopped.

Be alert, watchful and listen for vehicles, other pedestrians, runners and loose animals.

If you are someone who gets aggravated in large crowds or congested traffic, avoid the downtown area, especially on the morning of Aug. 20. With a little patience from everyone and a firm grasp of the rules to follow, we can make this race an enjoyable and safe event for all spectators and race participants.

Lt. Ray Shupe is assistant operations division commander with the Durango Police Department.