Safety first

We’ve talked a lot this summer about using alternative modes of transportation. We know there are some of you who are already using bikes, motorcycles, mopeds, skateboards and scooters or taking the bus who are getting tired of reading this stuff. We also know there are a few of you who—due to circumstances that may be beyond your control—are unable to modify how you get around, and you are also tired of reading this newspaper’s opinions on this matter. Reasons for this may include the fact that your job or child’s school is miles away from public transportation, or maybe you suffer from a physical disability.

Be that as it may, we’re going to the well one more time because it’s important. We’ve seen, as no doubt many of you have seen, the number of non-automobile users explode this summer. That’s at least in part because of sky-high fuel costs, but it’s also because of the raising of consciousness and consciences regarding global warming and the plight of our planet. We applaud everyone who’s made the effort.

But for every 10 new riders we see out there, we see a few people who haven’t made the connection between saving the planet and saving themselves. Let’s be blunt: In a battle between a car and a 50 cc moped, the car wins. The rider of the moped or bicycle loses hard, maybe leaving behind body parts or even their lives. We, like many of you, just cringe when we see some zany scooter driver zipping down Virginia Street within the stream of traffic at 40 miles per hour wearing sandals and shorts and not wearing a helmet or other protective gear.

That is, by any definition, stupid. It is being willfully ignorant of the consequences of things beyond your control. For example, some drunk may not look both ways before barreling down the street. A helmetless rider may still die even if not at fault for an accident. It’s also illegal to ride without a helmet on a scooter.

Reno law also specifically forbids riding motorcycles or scooters without protective footwear (Reno City Code, Sec. 6.06.685): “No person shall operate or ride upon any vehicle covered under this section unless such person is wearing protective foot covering. Sandals, thongs and open-toed shoes are not considered protective foot covering.”

Finally, we know many people don’t need this reminder for bike safety, but it never hurts to be reminded. Here are some tips about riding your bike on the road: Obey traffic signs and signals; never ride with headphones; wear a helmet; never ride against traffic; use hand signals; don’t weave between parked cars; ride in the middle of the lane in slow traffic; follow lane markings; be especially careful when turning left; don’t pass on the right; make eye contact with drivers; scan the road behind; keep both hands ready to brake; use lights at night; dress appropriately; keep your bike in good repair.

Yes, we know that bike riders, moped riders, scooter riders and motorcycle riders have the same rights as automobile riders when using the roads. Believe us, we don’t want to have that discussion as you are pulled out from under some Prius—your family’s funeral director won’t care who was at fault.