Going green and the price of gasoline have encouraged more Twin Cities residents to park their cars and pull out their bikes. Pedal power is good for the environment -- and for bottom lines and waistlines.
Yet more bikes have contributed to more bike-vehicle accidents -- including fatalities. Just last month, four bike riders were killed in collisions with vehicles. Ranging in age from 18 to 65, the cyclists died after crashes in Blaine, St. Paul and Minneapolis. Clearly, cyclists and motorists must do a better job of looking out for each other.
Cars and bikes are equals under traffic rules, but too often their operators don't behave that way. Some cyclists think their size and agility give them permission to zip between lanes without signaling and to ignore stop signs and red lights. As for drivers, some seem to resent bike lanes and fail to acknowledge the road rights of bike riders. Those attitudes can be dangerous -- even fatal.
Metro-area hospitals also report an increase in bike-car crash injuries. Officials at St. Paul's Regions Hospital said such injuries are up 30 percent over last year. North Memorial in Robbinsdale saw 50 victims this summer, compared with 28 last year. And Minneapolis police reported 47 hit-and-run bike-vehicle accidents this year.
As more bikes become part of the traffic scene, riders should follow traffic laws, wear helmets and reflective clothing and use lights. And their counterparts behind the wheel must responsibly share the road, slow down and drive safely.