Getting bikes and cars to co-exist

May 8, 2013

Criterium bicycle race at WMU's BTR Park
Credit WMU University Relations

When bikes and cars mix on the road it can be a tense situation for everyone. Helping two- and four-wheeled traffic co-exist is a major theme of the second annual Kalamazoo Bike Week. It starts Thursday, May 9th, with a “Community Forum on Cycling”. Bike Week Co-Chairman David Warwick says he hopes it attracts motorists as well as bicyclists. The forum starts at 6 p.m. in the Lawrence Education Center at Borgess Medical Center, 1521 Gull Road, in Kalamazoo.

Warwick says the forum is intended to get motorists and bicyclists together to talk about how to share the road and follow the rules. He says both sides have something to learn. Those on bikes shouldn’t blow through stop signs and red lights, while some motorists don’t realize that bicyclists can ride legally on the right side of the traffic lane. In 14 years of commuting to work on his bike, Warwick says he’s had few problems with angry motorists. He gives the Kalamazoo area a “B” for bike-car etiquette, in part because of education efforts by groups like the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club.

Warwick says a particular sore point for many drivers is large groups of bicyclists riding together during the summer. He says those on bikes can’t ride legally more than two abreast and often should ride single-file to make life easier for motorized traffic. Warwick says those in cars should treat a biking group just like any other vehicle, following all of the usual rules on passing and clearance.

Other events during Kalamazoo Bike Week include the annual “Trailblazer” ride to raise money for the Kal-Haven Trail. It will be held on Saturday, May 11th. The following Saturday the mayors of Kalamazoo and Portage will participate in the “City to City Ride”. The Kalamazoo Bicycle Club will hold its annual Bike Camp beginning with an informational session on Tuesday, May 14th. Bike safety training begins on Saturday the 18th. There's even a Kalamazoo Bicycle Film Festival. The week of May 13th is also National Ride Your Bike to Work Week.

The Kalamazoo Bike Week Web page has details about these and other events.