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Branford SportsBeat: Rules of the Road

After the tragedy in Norwalk last week that claimed the life of the jogger, a new light has been shined on safety issues when it comes to sharing the roads in our areas.

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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.

Bill Fasula April 02, 2012 at 11:26 AM
It's now a state law that motorists must leave 3 feet of space when passing a pedestrian or cyclist. That means you can't squeeze by when there is on coming traffic, you must STOP until there is enough room to pass with 3 feet of space. Roads are not the exclusive domain of automobiles.
TB April 02, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I agree with the above poster but is it right for them to ride/jog 2 or 3 wide in the road? Very often than not i come across that which I don't think is right.
Suzy April 02, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I have no problem with people jogging onthe road when there is no sidewalk, but why must you run on the road when our tax dollars have paid to install and maintain safe pedistrian travelways?!
Bill Fasula April 02, 2012 at 03:47 PM
From the article "Connecticut laws state that cyclists can ride two abreast,"
Nicole Ball April 02, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Via Facebook: Branford Patch (www.facebook.com/branfordpatch) "A pedestrian tragedy in Norwalk has sports' writer Paul Devlin thinking about road safety. Do you think Branford's roads are safe for walkers. joggers and bikers?" Jackie Pickering Weston: No, I don't, but it goes both ways. I also think that those who walk/ride bikes, etc need to also look out for their own safety, and bike riders need to obey rules of the road as well. There were several times last week alone while I was out driving after dark, and there were several people out walking along (not well lit areas) wearing black. I didn't see them at all until I was right near them. Anyone who drives too close to the curb and I've seen quite a few, definitely wouldn't have seen them until maybe it was too late. I mean come on now, if you are going to be out walking, riding, jogging, wear reflectors so oncoming vehicles can see you. Bill Canosa: Bicycles riding down rt146 tend to ride 2or 3 wide down the road which is dangerous. They should be ticketed for it with the same enthusiasm given to loud motorcycles
Branford Voter April 03, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Right or wrong, when a rider or walker is absolutely in the wrong.... their punishment, a death sentence, is way too severe. Dark clothing at night, wrong sides of the road, cars pulling around pedestrians into oncoming traffic and not braking or stopping as they should. Walkers and riders 2 -4 abreast. Going too slow. Going too fast. Noones even looking. Ipods in the ears. Pedestrians with cell phones in hand. But it doesn't matter. Car & truck drivers are not licensed executioners. They don't wnat to deliver death sentences. Dorsey is dead for his mistake, his sin. The 16 year old driver for hers she will be forever be haunted and scarred. An avoidable tragedy. Near misses abound.
Steve from SAAC April 03, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Take a tip from roadside workers who wear reflective gear even in broad daylight--make yourself as visible as possible to drivers of cars and trucks! My only objection is when roadside dogwalkers/joggers/etc aim a handheld flashlight in the eyes of oncoming cars. This accomplishes nothing apart from disorienting the driver. PLEASE WEAR THE BEST POSSIBLE REFELCTIVE GEAR!
JP April 03, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Suzy, Unfortunately, cement sidewalks are among the worst surfaces to jog on -- terrible on the knees over time -- that is why a lot of runners stay on the asphalt shoulder, which is not as hard a surface. I would prefer to run in a park on dirt paths, which is the best surface, but that is not always possible, so I try to run in areas that don't have much traffic. What surprises me is the number of joggers running with traffic, ie, cars coming at them from behind. I always run with traffic coming at me so I can see when cars are too close to the side of the road, or worse, a disoriented driver who is all over the road. I think joggers and bicyclists both need to take more care and not assume that cars will simply yield to them in all circumstances.

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