Opinion

Proposal would encourage safer cycling in Kitsap

When Roberta Beery first started cycling four years ago, she could have used some help gaining the confidence she needed to bike in traffic.

During her first year of cycling, she didn’t make her way into busy roads at all.

“I didn’t want to head out into traffic on my own,” said Beery, who lives in Hansville and works at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. “I was just afraid.”

Unlike motor vehicles, no special training or license is required to navigate a bicycle on public roads, which can lead to anxiety in cyclists and can scare some people from trying a healthier, more environmentally-friendly way of getting around.

But with a class for students on basic bicycle handling and maintenance proposed for Olympic College, to be paid for by the Puget Sound Regional Council, would-be bikers can take their place on the road without fearing for their lives.

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington proposed the nearly $300,000 project to the council, which plans for growth in the region. It intends to help cyclists become more confident on shared roadways and separated trails, according to the project proposal.

The money would provide training for an instructor at Olympic College to teach the class.

Beery said she hopes the class will help newer cyclists such as herself avoid the dangerous mistakes she sees on the road.

“There’s a lot of bicyclists out there who need to be trained,” she said.

West Sound Cycling Club also offers a series of classes intended for beginners to advanced riders, according to the club’s website.

Don Czeczok of Silverdale, vice president of the club, said the Olympic College classes would benefit cyclists and drivers alike.

“The more confidence they gain and the more basic understanding they have of the laws, the better off they are and the better off the drivers are,” he said.

The money will come from $19.9 million from the Federal Highway Administration intended to teach bicycle safety, among other programs. Public comments on the projects will be accepted until Oct. 28 at tipcomment@psrc.org.

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