As weather warms, watch for bikes
The air is getting warmer, the days are getting longer and getting from place to place by bicycle is starting to look like an appealing option.
For drivers and bikers alike, that means once again getting used to sharing the road. It's a process Farmington police sergeant Jim Constantineau compares to remembering how a car handles on slick roads after the first heavy snowfall of winter.
"The bicycles need to be wary of the cars and the cars need to be wary of the bicycles," Constantineau said. "It's a lot easier for a bicycle to see a car than for a car to see a bicycle."
Jessica Konicek saw the car that hit her as she rode towards home April 7. Konicek was on a neighborhood street in north Farmington when the car pulled up to a stop sign on a cross street.
"They stopped and went and apparently either didn't see me or misjudged my speed," Konicek said.
Konicek, who rides her bike to work most days during the spring and summer, tried to swerve out of the way, but the car hit the front of her bike and knocked her over. She suffered a few bruises, but her bike was fine and she was able to ride home. Still, it was a frightening moment.
"There was definitely that moment when I realized I couldn't avoid it," Konicek said. "I was a little bit shaken up."
Konicek said the driver stopped to make sure she was OK, but didn't stick around long.
"I was a little angry, so I'm not surprised they got back in their car and drove away," she said.
There have been fatal car-bike accidents in Farmington in recent years, but such incidents are rare.
"I think part of it has to do with the abundance of trails," Constantineau said.
The city of Farmington has more than 40 miles of biking and walking trails.
Sometimes, though, the roads are the best way for a biker to get from one place for another. That's when cars and bikes need to learn how to get along.
For drivers and bikers alike, sharing the road means understanding the rules.
Bikes have many of the same rights to the road as cars do. Bikers are expected to stay as far right as is reasonable. In some cases that means on the shoulder. But if there is no usable shoulder it means the right side of the road.
"Obviously you can't expect (bikes) to be on the gravel," Constantineau said.
Bikes are also subject to the same rules as cars.
"They have to stop at stop signs and they have to ride on the right shoulder of the road," Constantineau said. "That's where a lot of problems occur, when bikers think they can go anywhere."
Constantineau said it's important to teach kids at a young age the proper way to ride safely.