Bicyclists: a moving population

By: KRISTIN KIRTZ

A cyclist crosses Broadway in downtown Fargo.

FARGO, N.D. – As more and more people start looking to bicycling as a main mode of transportation, some Fargo community members are hoping to make Fargo a more bike friendly city.

Nicole Slaboch moved to Fargo from Chicago in August for a teaching position at the West Fargo Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Center.  She has also lived in Milwaukee, Wis., and has used her bike as her main source of transportation in all three cities.

Although Fargo is the smallest city on Slaboch’s list, she said it is also the hardest city to bike in.

“I have almost been hit by a couple cars and I feel like I need to be a little bit more cautious here,” said Slaboch. “I haven’t seen that many bike riders. Maybe the community isn’t accustomed to having to look out for them as much, like in Chicago or Milwaukee.”

Biking in Fargo

Driver passes me illegally on Broadway while I am following the traffic law
by riding my bike on the road on Broadway.

Now, more than ever you need to keep an eye out for bicyclists while traveling not only downtown but in the whole metro area.

Commuting by bike is becoming more popular and accepted globally.  Although many cities including, Amsterdam, Boulder, Colo., and Portland, Ore., are already well known for being bike friendly cities, cities like Fargo still have some improving to do.

Valley Bicycle Summit teaches bike safety

Bicycles locked to bike racks.

On Sept. 15 the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments (Metro COG), presented the Valley Bicycle Summit at Fargo South High School. It was a full day of teaching adults, children and families proper biking etiquette.

Dorian Grilley, the executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, was the keynote speaker at the summit.  He beleives that Fargo is moving in the direction of becoming a great bike city.

“The streets are wide, there are sidewalks, it’s flat. It’s really easy to get around here,” said Grilley.”

Getting smart equals getting safe

A designated bike lane in downtown Fargo.

In reality, a big reason biking in Fargo can be difficult is drivers lack of education, both in motorized vehicles and on bikes.

Shelly Gunderson, an avid Fargo bicyclist, notices a difference in riding downtown vs. riding in other parts of Fargo.

“When I’m downtown, generally I think people are pretty respectful. They make a lot of room for bicyclists and let us take the lane,” said Gunderson.  “In other parts of town I think it’s a little scarier… downtown I think there is a lot of bike traffic and people are expecting it. Other parts of town (people) are not as patient.”

Gunderson also thinks community education would allow for a safer biking community.

“I wish that people who were irritated by bicyclists would attend things like this (summit) and get educated in how to navigate through traffic,” said Gunderson.

Fargo has become a bike city: rules apply

Many signs like this line Broadway to let bicyclists know they are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk.

With biking becoming more popular in the F-M area, knowing the rules of the road is a must. These are some things the city of Fargo thinks you should keep in mind as a driver or a bicyclist.

  • Bikes are vehicles. They have just as much right to the road as a car does.
  • Obey the laws. Just because you are on a bike doesn’t mean you can ignore stop signs and blow red lights.
  • Act as though you are a vehicle. Watch out for cars as well as pedestrians. This also means that you should ride your bike using the same laws and courtesy you would if you were driving a car.
  • Be polite. You’re correct Mr. Driver, the bicyclist is going slower than you. But give the bicyclists space and wait till it is OK and legal to pass them. Being polite goes for bikers as well. Don’t cut off traffic, use hand signals and let other bicyclists and pedestrians know when you are coming up on them so you can safely pass them.
  • Pay attention to where you should be. Bicyclists, make sure you notice if there is a designated bike lane. Always be aware of your surroundings. Cars, make sure you don’t drive in the designated bike lanes and before making a right turn be sure to look and see if there is a bicyclist in the bike lane.
  • Drive in the same direction as traffic. Again, treat bikes as vehicles. So don’t drive against traffic.

 

You can learn more by visiting the city of Fargo’s website. There you can learn facts, tips and rules about road safety in Fargo.

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