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Tragedy struck last weekend in Norwalk whenman who was jogging on a busy road, was struck and killed by a motorist. The death of Dorsey cast a shadow over the entire city and forced many to re-evaluate the safety of joggers and cyclists when it comes to sharing the road with vehicles.
"We know that cyclists can be just as defenseless as joggers," said Mitch Fuchs, communications director and 10-year member of the Sound Cyclists Biking Club in Fairfield County. "It doesn't matter if you wear bright clothing or use mirrors to see what's coming behind you, accidents happen and if there are distracted drivers on the cell phone or texting, they won't see you."
There are a number of rules joggers and cyclists should follow to stay safe on the roads. Bob Stevenson, president of the Milford Road Runners club since 1986, says the most important thing for runners is knowing which side of the street to run on.
"Runners should always run against traffic, not with it,"said Stevenson. "You should be facing traffic to see what is coming at you. When your back is to the traffic, it makes it a lot more difficult, obviously." Dorsey was running with traffic and never saw the SUV driven by a 16-year old New Canaan girl when he was killed.
Stevenson also suggests joggers wear bright colored clothing, refrain from using headphones where there is traffic, and take nothing for granted when it comes to motorists, "You can never assume they will always see you," he said. "Technically, pedestrians have the right of way, but we know that doesn't always turn out to be the case."
Driveways and side streets can be hazardous for runners, as well, "When motorists are turning right, they look left because that's where the traffic is coming from. Joggers need to be aware that when cars are pulling out, they are usually not looking in their direction if they're coming from the right side."
Fuchs says that cyclists must follow the rules of the road as if they were motorists, "Safety is our number one issue. You obviously have to be respectful of cars and be prudent," he said. "If they see a cyclist riding in the middle of the road when the streets are relatively empty, they will get upset and probably be a little more belligerent to the next cyclist they see."
Connecticut laws state that cyclists can ride two abreast, but riders should make adjustments when there is heavy traffic and the terrain of the roads become more difficult,"It's not always that easy because of pot holes and dirt and gravel on the road. That can make riding a lot more dangerous. Riders should know when to pull back into single file."
Safety is never guaranteed, but keeping an eye out for each other on the roads can go a long way in preventing tragedies from happening.