Best route for bicyclists is erring on the side of caution

Thousands of wheeling wonders around the valley are taking their daily commutes by cycle.

Agencies around Southern Nevada have added avenues to make it easier to incorporate bicycles into a healthy lifestyle, but they want riders to play it safe.

Jacinto Rivera, spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department, said one simple road rule should be foremost on the minds of bicyclists and motorists.

"If you can't do it with an automobile, you can't do it with a bike," he said.

Bicycles are not permitted on sidewalks, and both modes of transportation should ride in the same direction.

Citations can be written in Las Vegas, Clark County, North Las Vegas and Henderson for such violations. Juvenile citations are handed out, too.

Biking safely by going against traffic is a myth, Rivera said.

Chrissie Coon, spokeswoman for the North Las Vegas Police Department, said bicyclists need to do what they can to be on motorists' radar. Last year, a woman was struck and killed on Craig Road as she passed a private drive near a Walmart.

"It's always in the best interest of the rider (to do) anything to give a little extra notice," Coon said.

Coon said bicyclists must don a helmet, and all riders must remember that crosswalks are for pedestrians.

Also, riders should step off the bike and walk it to cross the street, she said.

Motorists should be mindful that bicycles have the right of way, but many drivers aren't aware, Coon added.

Kathleen Richards, a spokeswoman with the city of Henderson, urged riders to use the 4-foot-wide bike lanes the city has designated for rider safety.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada oversees more than 80 miles of bicycle routes and 180 miles of bicycle lanes in the valley.

Bicycle routes are designated on roadways that have a wide curb lane of at least 14 feet between the lane line and the lip of the curb, plus a 1.5-foot-wide gutter pan.

A bicycle lane, meanwhile, is a portion of a roadway that has been assigned using striping, signage and pavement markings for bicyclists. The width of the bicycle lane is set at a 4-foot minimum from the bicycle lane strip to the edge of the pavement, plus a 1.5-foot-wide gutter pan.

The Regional Transportation Commission suggested common-sense measures to stay safe while sharing the road :

n Ride in a straight line on the right side of drivers.

n At night, bicycle riders must have a white headlight visible from at least 500 feet away and a red tail reflector visible from 300 feet away.

n Avoid dodging between cars.

n Watch for parked motorists swinging their doors open.

n Use hand signals to turn and execute the move 100 feet beforehand.

The city of Las Vegas devotes a whole chapter of its ordinances to bicycles.

Many of the rules suggested by other agencies apply, but some other terms also are covered.

Some of the terms include : It is unlawful for a bicyclist to turn where a sign indicates that no right turn, left turn or U-turn is permitted; one person a time is allowed on a bike; it is unlawful to attach to another moving vehicle to hitch a ride; it is unlawful to carry items in one's hands while riding; and the bike must be in proper working order when on the road.

Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at or 477-3839.