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Bicyclists must follow traffic rules, too

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Lindsey Podzimek, guest columnist

On the evening of May 25, I was walking with a friend across the Lion Bridge from New Bohemia back toward the Czech Village. My friend and I are both petite women, so imagine how we felt when a husky, 6-foot-something tall “gentleman” came careening directly at us on a fat bike at what had to have been close to 20 miles per hour.

As my friend and I moved quickly to the edge of the walkway, the big guy on the big bike proceeded to scream, “This is a bike trail!” Aside from feeling threatened by his inability to control both his bike and his emotions, we couldn’t help but notice the irony of the situation: a grown man, riding on the sidewalk — never a good idea for any cyclist — yelling that it had instead magically transformed into a bike trail, all while the actual bike trail was clearly labeled barely a yard away on the roadway.

Cyclists’ mantra is “share the road,” but that doesn’t mean, “I can ride wherever I want.” Staying off the sidewalk is Bicycling 101. Riding on the sidewalk is an obvious safety hazard. We could have been hurt in a collision, but the cyclist would have likely suffered at least a few bumps and bruises, too — if not worse. A crash at that speed could easily have ended with a broken arm or collarbone — particularly with so much cement around.

I wish this was an isolated incident, but it isn’t. As a business owner, I see cyclists riding on the sidewalk in front of my shop daily. And, yes, we have a designated bike lane on our street.

If you have to be on the sidewalk for any reason (say, construction), dismount and walk. If bike lanes are provided, as was the case here, please use them. Otherwise, ride on the road and follow the rules — and help us all stay out of the hospital.

Additionally, the trail system in Cedar Rapids is multiuse. As a cyclist, you need to learn how to deal with pedestrians on occasion, along with kids on everything from Rollerblades to skateboards.

The city of Cedar Rapids has done so much to make our town bike-friendly, and they’ve done an excellent job. And bikes are a great way to commute, exercise and have fun. So let’s all — cyclists, pedestrians and motorists — be sure to follow the rules so we can move around the city safely.

• Lindsey Podzimek is a Cedar Rapids native and local business owner.

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