Bike week: Time to share the roads

Next week is bike week in Alaska.

No, we're not referring to the leather-clad folks riding choppers -- though May also is motorcycle awareness month. Think instead instead of the Spandex-clad folks you see pedaling their ride along the Unity Trail or the bike path on Kalifornsky Beach Road.

But it's a much bigger group than that -- it also includes people who simply enjoy the occasional casual bike ride, as well as all the kids we see around town.

Governor Sean Parnell has proclaimed May to be Bike Month in Alaska, and next week bike week. In addition, Wednesday was Bike to School Day, and next Friday is Bike to Work Day.

There are different reasons for hopping on a bicycle, from fitness to environmental conservation to simply saving a few bucks on gas.

Indeed, bicycling is one of the fastest growing activities in Alaska. According to the governor's proclamation, Alaska ranks sixth in the nation in the number of adults who bike to work per capita. And certainly, the number of people pushing pedals around the central Kenai Peninsula is booming.

To that end, the city of Soldotna, along with its Bike, Pedestrian and Trails Committee, the Soldotna Police Department and Safe Kids Kenai Peninsula will have a family bike safe event Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at Soldotna Creek Park.

Some reminders for those who will be cycling on Peninsula roads this summer: under Alaska law, a bicycle rider on a public road generally has all the rights and duties of the operator of any other vehicle. That means staying to the right, riding with traffic, using signals to turn or stop, obeying traffic signs and signals and yielding to pedestrians.

Make sure bicycles are in good working order with proper safety equipment, including reflectors, a red taillight and, if you're riding at a time when vehicles are required to use headlights, a functioning headlight. Bicyclists should make themselves as visible as possible -- that means wearing hi-vis colors for your ride. Fortunately, day-glo green is coming back into style.

Most importantly, make sure you're wearing a good fitting helmet. Helmets are required in Kenai for youth cyclists under age 16, but they are a good idea for everyone.

Motorists should remember to treat cyclists just as they would any other vehicle on the road -- approaching with caution, and passing when it is safe to do so.

The governor in his proclamation notes that "many Alaskans will experience the joys of bicycling this summer." We're glad to see that's the case here on the Peninsula, and we're looking forward to enjoying a safe and healthy season sharing the road.

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