SANTA CLARA – National Bike Month is coming to a close on a high note in Washington County as three new cities receive their “Road Respect Community” designations and are recognized as cities that promote cycling safety and mutual respect between motorists and cyclists on the road.
Hundreds of community members gathered at Gubler Park in Santa Clara Thursday evening to participate in a family bike fest and to witness as Santa Clara became the newest community to be designated as having satisfied enough criteria to become a “Road Respect Community.”
Santa Clara Parks Director Brad Hays accepted the award on behalf of the city.
Santa Clara will be followed by Hurricane and Washington City, which will both receive their designations on Friday.
This is the fifth year that Road Respect has come to Washington County, Kai Reed, board secretary for the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, said, adding that it is almost unprecedented for them to come to the same community so many times.
Reed attributed that fact to the enormous growth in cycling in Utah and specifically Washington County with big events such as Ironman 70.3 that help promote cycling among community members.
“I’ve been riding (here) for over 10 years and I remember going out on rides and not seeing another cyclist at all,” William Shake, head mechanic at Rapid Cycling, said. “I (bike) commute six days a week, I am an avid commuter and I like seeing now that, on my commuting paths, other cyclists are doing the same thing.”
Road Respect is a statewide initiative that began five years ago with the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Highway Patrol and Zero Fatalities, and was designed to create mutual respect on the road.
“It’s all about respect; it’s about ‘it’s a two-way street,'” Reed said. “It’s, ‘How do we get along; how do we share the road?'”
Bicycle safety was the key focus of the evening Thursday, with officers from the Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department as well as the Utah Highway Patrol on hand to make sure children were educated on bike helmet use, understanding and obeying road signs and properly equipping their bikes with lights.
Children in attendance were able to test their knowledge and skills in an officer-led family bike ride, which was held during the event.
“We’re just going to go around the park here and then go up into the neighborhood,” Detective Jason Shafer, a bike officer, said of the ride. “We’re going to make sure they’re using the stop signs, making the turns the appropriate way and watching for traffic.”
Shafer said it is important to teach bike safety to children at a young age to help them hopefully avoid accidents in the future.
The event was attended by several state and local dignitaries, including House District 75 Representative Don Ipson, Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Director Chief Robert Flowers and Utah State Senate President Wayne Niederhauser.
A cyclist himself, Niederhauser praised the Road Respect program for creating an awareness of the need for mutual understanding between cyclists and drivers.
“This is the kind of thing that we need to create,” he said in his address, “an awareness of ‘you’re not the only person on the road,’ and this is a message for bicyclists and this is a message for motorists. Watch out for each other and let’s be safe on the road.”
The bike fest, which featured a bike rodeo, face painting, games, a neighborhood ride, a classic car show, prizes and more was well attended by the community.
Over 100 free helmets were handed out to children in attendance.
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