Walk left, ride right and more

PaTHs Committee and town roll out bike/pedestrian safety campaign

With the arrival of spring, many Bethlehemites are shedding sweaters, flinging open windows and venturing into the outdoors. And town officials and the Bethlehem Pathways to Homes, Hamlets and Healthy Hearts Advisory (PaTHs) Committee are reminding pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists to be aware of one another this season.

The committee is launching an educational campaign aimed at driving safe practices home among these groups. Palm cards are to be distributed throughout the community and tips will also run on Channel 18.

This is a new approach for the PaTHs Committee, which has contributed to planning how to expand bicycle and pedestrian access throughout town.

I think in the past we concentrated more on the engineering side of bike/ped, said Bethlehem Senior Planner Robert Leslie, who serves as town liaison to the committee.

The palm card is to highlight rules that most everyone knows but far too few follow. Though most feel the community is behind a walkable, bikeable community and that goal is part of the town's comprehensive plan, planning and outreach go hand in hand, said PaTHs Committee member Anne Benware.

"That safety education and potentially enforcement of different aspect of pedestrian safety and bike safety is also important. The whole thing has to work together," she said.

Common rules to remember: bicyclists should ride to the right of the road with traffics, walkers should stick to the left; motorists should slow down when approaching bicyclists and make sure to pass with a minimum of a three-foot distance; cars must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk; and bicyclists and pedestrians should always make an effort to be visible to motorists.

But the most important rule is to simply remember to share the road and be conscious of ones surroundings. Though motorists can sometimes draw the ire of walkers and bike riders for hogging the road, it's everyone's responsibility to keep things safe and orderly out there.

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