cyclist

The author recommends that, for safety, cyclists wear a helmet and brightly colored clothing.

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Outdoor enthusiasts are contributing to our Southern Vermont housing boom. They’re supporting our health-conscious ways, such as “buying local,” and they’re exerting their outdoor energy by walking, hiking, running, and cycling.

Vermont welcomes outdoorsy people and supports their enthusiasm. However, there are prevention measures to consider, and I’m suggesting road bikers take some practical tips while pedaling the bucolic rural roads to prevent fatalities and injuries.

DAYTIME ROAD BIKERS

During the daytime, the road biker shares the roads, wooden bridges, and cow crossings with on-coming drivers. And in some cases, the biker is wearing earphones.

Some factors tend to be nerve-racking for drivers, especially on rural roads with road bikers.

Road bikers must travel on the right side of the road, in the same direction as the traffic flow, and stay as far right in the right lane as they can. Fear escalates when a driver sees road bikers with earphones, so please unplug because a driver’s reaction time can vary.

For example, patches of shade/shadows put the driver and the biker in a dangerous position, especially when the biker is wearing dark-colored clothing such as gray, black, and dark green. The colors blend into the shade/shadows, the bark of trees, and the myriads of green forests. It makes it very difficult for the driver to react promptly and increases the chance of significant collisions.

In contrast, when road bikers are wearing fluorescent-colored clothing, drivers recognize it faster and from farther away. In these cases, the driver has more time to react, and it lessens the chance of a collision.

Drivers associate fluorescent orange with caution because highway workers commonly wear it. Other effective colors are yellow, lime green, pink and turquoise. These colors are suggested for walkers and runners.

NIGHTTIME ROAD BIKERS

Be sure to wear clothing that shines. A reflective vest and knee and ankle reflectors will assist in illuminating the nighttime biker. This also applies to walkers and runners.

Nighttime road bikers need to illuminate their road bikes with reflective materials to be seen by drivers and to see what lies ahead. A front white bike light, preferably 400-800 lumens, and red rear light, preferably 400-800 lumens, can help make a difference. You can wrap the neon-colored tape around handlebars, and reflectors can be added to tire spokes.

Twenty-eight states mandate bicycle helmet use, and I’m astounded Vermont is not one of them. Today there are reflective helmets for bikers who want maximum safety. Another option, especially if you already have a helmet, is to purchase reflective tape and tape it onto your helmet. For Vermont biking laws and suggestions, you can refer to https://bicycleuniverse.com/bicycle-laws/bike-laws-invermont/.

The pandemic has contributed to the housing boom in Southern Vermont. Seven hundred and forty-four homes, including condos and homesites, have sold in Bennington County. Seven hundred and forty-four does not include the second homeowners who have departed city life to become full-time residents in Vermont.

In the first quarter of 2021, 156 homes, including condos and homesites, have sold in Bennington County. The uptick is exciting because Vermont welcomes outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate the varied outdoor activities throughout the year.

So, to my road biking enthusiasts, don’t forget to unplug, and fluorescent is not only about illuminating the nightlife of Manhattan; it’s about preventing fatalities and injuries when biking on a bucolic rural road.

Tara Shannon is an outdoor enthusiast who lives in Dorset.


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