By Anna Jauhola
Now that school is out for the summer, kids will be zooming through town on their bicycles or rollerblades headed for parks, the pool and over to friends’ houses.
One concerned mom of children just learning to ride bikes expressed concern lately that some motorists don’t always pay attention.
Stacy Diamond, who lives north of Kittson Central School in Hallock, said she hopes people will take a few minutes to remember each day to slow down through town and look for bicycle riders and other modes of transportation.
“The kids on our block are just learning to ride bikes without training wheels and rollerblade,” she said. “Sometimes they are concentrating so hard on not falling down they lose track of the side of the road.”
While she and other parents around town continue teaching their children the rules of the road, Hallock Police Chief Mike Docken reminds drivers that cyclists have the same rights as a motor vehicle. For example, cyclists can enter the middle of the road to make a left-hand turn.
“Bicycles need to stay to the farthest right side of the road as possible,” he said. “If they do make a lane change, they need to signal.”
The city of Hallock follows state statute, which allows bicycles on sidewalks but requires right-of-way to pedestrians. State law also does not require cyclists to wear helmets. Docken and other authorities, however, strongly encourage helmet use to prevent head trauma in case of an accident.
State law requires night riders to have reflectors on a bike and a working headlamp, which is usually a battery power light affixed to the handlebars.
Docken cautions drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, whether it be texting, scrolling social media or talking on the phone.
“Be aware that the kids, and others, are riding bike. Be extra cautious,” he said. “Sometimes those kids don’t stop at stop signs or keep the rules in mind.”
Drivers should also make sure to slow down and give nearby cyclists plenty of room. For parents, Docken advises teaching them defensive strategies, to be observant and watch for vehicles. Using proper hand signals for turning can help make all the difference.
By Anna Jauhola