ST. GEORGE – As Southern Utah becomes a bigger hotbed for outdoor recreation, the Washington County Board of Commissioners is encouraging bicyclists and motorists to share the roads more safely.
The commissioners unanimously passed a resolution at their meeting Tuesday to encourage bicyclists to follow safe procedures when riding on the road. The resolution also encourages motorists to be aware of bicyclists and to better share the road.
“We recognize that there is that inherent conflict of putting bicyclists and motor vehicles on the same road,” Commissioner Chairman Zachary Renstrom said. “Our roads weren’t built for that 60 years ago. We do encourage people to come ride on our roads, but to use safe bicycling and safe motor vehicle practices.”
Local bike groups approached the commissioners and asked them to encourage people to better share the road, Renstrom said, possibly with more signs in the future.
“I think it’s good to call out attention to our motorists that these bikes are here,” Commissioner Dean Cox said. “People like to come to Washington County and they like to recreate here. We want all of them to recreate safely.”
Washington County is not without its accidents between bicyclists and motor vehicles. Last year, a middle-schooler was hit by a car and injured while riding his bike to school. Also last year, a bicyclist was injured when he cut in front of oncoming traffic and was hit by a minivan.
Renstrom said bicyclists and motorists are most protected when following rules set in place to maintain safety. According to Utah law, bicyclists are required to:
- Follow all traffic rules that motor vehicles follow and travel in the same direction as traffic.
- Use hand signals when turning or changing lanes.
- Wear reflectors and use lights when riding at night.
For motorists, Utah law prohibits motor vehicles from being operated within 3 feet of a moving bicycle.
“We want to be an active community, have active transportation and have bikes as part of that,” Commissioner Victor Iverson said. “They don’t always mix as well as they should, but if we practice safety, it should be fine.”
Among other general business discussed at the commission meeting Tuesday, Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell Cashin, sheriff’s liaison for the search and rescue teams, announced final statistics for search and rescue in 2017: There were a total of 102 rescues with 3,897 total man-hours on those incidents, he said. Couple those with over 3,000 man-hours in training and the sheriff’s search and rescue volunteers worked a total of 7,337 hours. These numbers reflect volunteer man-hours only.
“2017 was a little busier than I would have hoped for,” Cashin said
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