With the opening of the new school year, avid cyclists and law enforcement officials urge students to practice safe cycling habits on Lampasas roadways.
Cycling enthusiast Mike Adams, president and CEO of First Texas Bank, said he was a beginning cyclist in adulthood.
“I got started 15 years ago,” Adams said. “When I started, I didn’t even own a bike.”
Initially, Adams took up cycling to rehabilitate a tear in his meniscus tendon, he said.
“I fell in love with it,” Adams said.
Now, he rides regularly with friend and colleague Kelvin Barkowsky in Kingsland where Adams lives.
“We’ve got a loop we do over there,” from Park Road 4 into Burnet, then down Texas 29 and up Farm to Market Road 2342 to Canyon of the Eagles.
“It’s a 50-mile loop,” he said. “It takes us two and a half hours.”
While Lampasas doesn’t have many bicyclists, Chief of Police Sammy Bailey said she has seen more and more students taking bikes to school.
“I’m seeing more students riding bikes, usually at the middle school age,” she said.
Even with school back in session, “we haven’t had any bicycle wrecks recently,” Bailey said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate.”
Since many children begin bicycling at an early age, learning cycling rules should start early as well, Bailey said.
“I ask parents to have these conversations with their children about following the rules of the road,” she said. “Pay attention to traffic around them. Travel near to the curb and allow vehicles to pass … Before you send your child out on a bike, make sure they know the rules of the road.”
Adams said when it comes to safety, “one of the biggest things I’m a firm believer in is wearing a helmet. I don’t go around the block without one.”
Adams has had two wrecks on a bicycle, and both times, a helmet saved him from injury to his head, he said.
Bailey also suggests checking your equipment before cycling. “Does your helmet fit? Is your tire inflated?”
Adams advises new riders to ride defensively.
“They need to watch out for other people and be alert all the time,” he said.
Adams also advises riders to make sure they can be seen.
“Even in the daytime, we always ride with lights on the bike, particularly on the back,” he said. “Wear bright-colored clothing whenever you can.”
Bailey said riding with a light at night is the law.
“You must have a light on the front and a red reflector on the back,” she said.
Bailey also encourages light-colored clothing and reflective gear, especially for students.
“Get a reflective stripe to put on their backpack,” she suggested to parents. “Put something on there so we can see them.”
For motorists, Adams recommends they give bicyclists as much space as possible.
“The biggest thing is to give a cyclist room,” he said. “They might swerve to avoid a pothole, and they might not think about someone coming up behind them.”
Bailey said one common misconception is that cyclists don’t have to obey traffic laws.
“Bicyclists have to follow the same laws as drivers,” she said. “They have the same rights and responsibilities.”
Adams and his cycling friends also try to follow all traffic laws, he said.
“We use arm signals, and we obey stop signs and stop lights,” he said. “You can’t fly through those things [intersections].”
The proper signals are an outstretched left arm for a left turn, a hand held up at 90 degrees for a right turn or down with palm facing behind to signal a stop, Bailey said.
While bicyclists must stop at intersections like motor vehicles, they do not have to get off their bike or walk across, Bailey said.
“Cyclists have the same rights as pedestrians at crosswalks,” she added.
Where to ride
Police encourage young cyclists to ride on the sidewalk and avoid riding down the center of city streets.
“We encourage children to ride on the sidewalks, other than in the downtown area where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic,” she said.
Bailey added that roadways are not the place to do bike tricks.
Cyclists also must avoid parked cars.
“Children tend to weave in and out of parked cars,” Bailey said. “That makes it difficult for drivers to see them coming. Ride with caution, and watch those vehicles.”
For the most part, drivers in Lampasas and surrounding areas are fairly considerate to cyclists, Adams said.
“Every now and then you get a diesel go by that fogs you with smoke, but that’s few and far between,” he said. “We have good places to ride around here. There are a lot of county roads with less traffic.”
According to city ordinance, cycling is prohibited on sidewalks on the following roadways:
• Third Street from Main Street to Hackberry Street.
• Live Oak Street from Second Street to Fourth Street.
• Pecan Street from Second Street to Fourth Street.
• Fourth Street from Main Street to Hackberry Street.
• The south side of East First Street from Main Street to South Western Street.
• The west side of South Western Street between East First Street and East Second Street.
• The east side of Main Street between East First Street and East Second Street.
• The parking lot and all ways/areas intended for use by pedestrian traffic, vehicular traffic and general public use on any portion of Lampasas Public Library property at 201 S. Main St.