The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 14, 2009

Enid police say cyclists, pedestrians also must be just as vigilant as motorists on city roadways

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer

People using Enid’s roadways are urged to exercise more caution and abide by the rules of the road.

Four fatalities have occurred on Enid roads this year, two this month.

“Motorists need to devote and pay attention when approaching slow-moving traffic, such as pedestrians and bicycles,” Enid Police Department Lt. Eric Holtzclaw said. “It’s very important motorists always be vigilant of other types of traffic.”

However, Holtzclaw said he’s not just “picking on motorists.” Pedestrians and those riding bicycles are just as responsible for following laws and ordinances governing the roads.

“It’s a group effort,” Holtzclaw said. “Everybody needs to do their part to make sure everyone is safe on the roadways. These rules are designed for everyone’s safety, not only motorists but pedestrians and everyone who occupies the road.”

People riding bicycles on Enid roads are required to follow the same rules as someone driving a car, he said.

Law requires bicyclists to “ride as close as is safe to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” The law allows for exceptions such as debris or surface hazards, pedestrian or animals and parked vehicles.

Enid city ordinances prohibit the riding of bicycles on sidewalks, passing other vehicles between lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction and riding more than two abreast. Bicyclists are required to only use bicycle paths when provided and not the roadway. City ordinance also prohibits bicyclists from carrying packages that prevent the rider from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.

Oklahoma law requires vehicles passing a bicycle in the same direction to leave a distance of no less than three feet.

Holtzclaw said bicyclists need to ride on the far right of the road, with the flow of traffic, and in single file, not side by side.

Ordinance also re-quires bicycles to be equipped with a front lamp when in use at any time from one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise. The same rules also require a back lamp on bicycles. Bicycles also must be equipped with a red reflector and a brake or brakes.

For those riding late at night or during early morning hours, Holtzclaw advised wearing brighter colors or reflective tape. He said to avoid dark-colored clothing when riding at those times.

He said the same tip should be used by people who are walking at night.

“Pedestrians walking at night should wear reflective gear or flashing armbands,” he said.

Those walking also should avoid walking on the roadway, whenever possible, and should walk facing oncoming traffic.

“Whenever possible, pe-destrians need to use crosswalks or cross the street at the corner if there’s not a crosswalk,” he said. “You can’t assume someone is going to stop for you if you’re not in a crosswalk.”

Holtzclaw also warned drivers from becoming more distracted by devices, such as cell phones and iPods.

He said studies are showing people who send text messages while driving are more impaired by their distraction than people driving under the influence of alcohol.

A city ordinance, titled Attention to Driving Re-quired, states: “The operator of every vehicle, while driving, shall devote his full time and attention to such driving.”

A citation for violation of the ordinance, which typically is issued in traffic accidents caused by a distracted driver, is $144.

Holtzclaw said people who need to send a text message or use a cell phone should pull over. He said police have seen an increase in texting while driving, especially in younger drivers.

“Especially, test messaging while driving is extremely dangerous,” Holtzclaw said.

If a call must be made while driving, he suggests using a wireless or hands-free headset.

“We need everyone to really pay attention,” he said, “especially since school has begun.”