Commissioners urge cyclists and motorists to share the roads; 2017 search and rescue report

Photo by Toa55, iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

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.

Reponders attend to a bicyclist who was struck by a car near 100 West and 500 South, St. George, Utah, Sept. 12, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

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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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Not_So_Much January 17, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Are all law enforcement agencies fully staffed? Is there a better quality of road paint which could be used on wider markings?

  • utahdiablo January 17, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    For motorists, “Utah law prohibits motor vehicles from being operated within 3 feet of a moving bicycle” yet you have a two lane with a double yellow on SR18 hwy that also has the Snow Canyon / Taxpayer funded paved bike / running path for miles that the bike riders refuse to use, they prefer to ride on the hwy …so there you are, going the posted limit of 60 mph, with other drivers on your bumper and bikes dart in front of you, yet you have a double yellow with oncoming traffic? Guess who loses? ….There are many paved bike paths or double wide sidewalks we as taxpayers all had to pay for….so use the damn things tourists…or better yet, don’t come here

    • Nobody January 18, 2018 at 4:12 am

      Thank you! This is the undisputed truth. I’m so tired of the Turtle heads going up and down 18 like they own it.
      That highway is a freaking nightmare already as it is.
      If they had any brains, they would stay …* off. There has been several times, where they scared …* me in the dark. The runners are even worse. Running without lights, in the narrow passages of 18. How no one has gotten splattered yet is unbelievable. SR18 is one of the most dangerous roads in the county…

      Ed. ellipses: …*

  • Eric January 17, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    You do realize that most people who own bikes also own cars. How about you actually learn and understand what the laws are surrounding bikes so you don’t look like an idiot when you post.

    • DRT January 18, 2018 at 8:13 am

      You do realize that there a couple of hard facts. The first one is that both motorists and bike riders continue to ignore all traffic laws. The second one is that when a bicycle and a motor vehicle tangle, it’s the bicyclest that is going to either the ER, or the morgue.
      I’m sure it will be a great comfort to the family and friends a dead bicyclist leaves behind, because “they have a right to be there!” And as a motorists, how are you going to feel knowing you have killed someone?

  • jaltair January 17, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    St George needs to put in bike lanes to the right of roads. If St George wants people to come and recreate safely while biking, then we need the bike lanes. Has this been discussed in City Council at all? Just common sense.

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