Stay safe biking roads, paths

14 Jul 2009 | Sgt. T.D. Smith

With gas prices rising and base traffic almost at a standstill, service members are finding alternative ways of commuting to and around base.

Bicyclists are becoming more prevalent both on and off base and there are a few key reasons commuters are making the switch from cars to cycles.

“Warm weather brings (cyclists) out,” said Stephan Crue, an occupational safety health specialist with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “Summer is a time when you see more cyclists on the roads. Plus, it’s a time when children are out of school and biking around base.”

With the growth of bike traffic, there becomes an increased need for bicycle safety. This is pertinent to both cyclists and motorists.

“Motorists need to be looking out for cyclists, especially children,” said Crue. “Bikers need to wear bright or reflective clothing. The brighter a cyclist is, the safer they are.”

Not only should motorists be looking out for bikers, but they should be courteous to them as well. The biker always has the right of way.

“If you are driving up behind a bike on the road and a car is coming at you, then you should slow down, allow the car to pass and then go around,” said Crue. “I’ve seen motorists push riders of the road and that is very dangerous.”

In addition to wearing reflective clothing and helmets, there are other safety features that need to be present on a bike to ride at night. Night, according to the base order, is considered to be after evening colors lasting to morning colors.

“You need to have a rear reflective device on the bike, if you are going to ride when it’s dark,” said Eric Quinn, a safety specialist with MCB Camp Lejeune. “Additionally, you need a head lamp mounted in the front.”

While riders can bike on the road, it is safer if they don’t. Car traffic can make it more dangerous for bikers when they take to the streets.

“It isn’t against the base order to ride on the roads,” said Crue. “However, we do encourage cyclists to use sidewalks and trail ways. There is less of a chance for them to have an accident involving a car.”

Other safety rules for cyclists include riding with the flow of traffic and walking the bike across intersections or any time while crossing a street. Furthermore, be aware of areas where it is unsafe or off limits to ride. It is prohibited to bike Holcomb Boulevard between Brewster Boulevard and Sneads Ferry Road.

There are several benefits of riding a bike. Due to the absence of carbon emissions, biking is an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, which cuts down on pollution. However, cycling isn’t just about commuting.

“I get out there as much as I can,” said Quinn. “It relieves stress and it is great exercise. Plus, you don’t have to worry about traffic, if you are commuting.”

There are several places locally to take a bike and ease tension and get in shape. The rails to trails greenway offers 5.2 miles of path, which stretches from the front gate to the McDonald’s on Highway 24. From there, another trail begins and will take a rider another 1.2 miles to New Bridge Middle School. Additionally, on base, there are off road bike trails at the intersection near the brig.

Whether biking for fun or transportation, safety is paramount.

“Marines are Marine’s 24 hours a day seven days a week,” said Crue. “Always use proper preventative equipment and operational risk management whether biking for a commute or for fun.”