Road Respect: Myths, tips on who pays for roads, how to ride roundabouts

Tim Tabor rides through the roundabout at Center Street and 200 East in Ivins. Tabor is riding straight through. He is positioned within the lane, making him more visible to any vehicle that might enter to his right (from entrance point at bottom left of photo) and to the vehicle behind him. Ivins, Utah, Aug. 31, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Tim Tabor, St. George News
Road Respect Utah logo, used with permission; St. George News
Road Respect Utah logo | Used with permission, St. George News

OPINION – Over the last several months, this Road Respect column has aimed to provide information about rules of the road both for bikes and cars, the benefits and increased popularity of cycling, and initiatives and events focused on cycling in Washington County. Also along the line of sharing the road, there are some myths and tips that people often raise and wonder about. This column takes a look at a couple of these.

First, on the myth side, there is the frequently heard complaint that cyclists don’t pay for the roads upon which they ride.

View looking up Kayenta Parkway, an Ivins City road. Local transportation infrastructure is maintained and developed in part with money from the city's general fund (which comes from property and sales tax). Ivins, Utah, Aug. 31, 2016. Photo courtesy of Kristine Crandall, St. George News
View looking up Kayenta Parkway, an Ivins City road. Local transportation infrastructure is maintained and developed in part with money from the city’s general fund (which comes from property and sales tax). Ivins, Utah, Aug. 31, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Kristine Crandall, St. George News

Before I could drive (or pay taxes), my bike was my independence. I rode it to school, to my various summer jobs and into the beautiful Colorado mountain scenery, using the state highway that goes through my hometown, county roads, city streets and multiuse paths. Both my mom (who would have had to shuttle me all around in the family Jeep Wagoneer, causing wear and tear on the roads in the process) and I would have been lost without my bike riding ability and enthusiasm. The objection that I wasn’t paying for my use of the roads is an odd one at best.

Now, as an adult, I own and use a car and ride my bike, as do the vast majority of cyclists. I pay automobile registration fees and gas taxes just like a noncycling motorist. In taking a social cost-benefit view, my bike has a negligible impact on the road, puts out no carbon dioxide and helps me stay healthier, reducing health care costs.

In addition, roads and other transportation infrastructure are supported through a variety of funding mechanisms, not just the excise tax on gas. Local transportation needs receive only partial support from the state gas tax with the remainder of road repairs and other projects covered by a taxing authority’s general fund, i.e. property and sales taxes.

In November, Washington County voters will see Proposition 1 on the ballot, a countywide proposal to increase the sales tax on most purchases by 0.25 percent to fund transportation. One of the goals of this local sales tax option is to place some of the burden of transportation infrastructure on tourists.

Maintaining and providing transportation facilities to match a growing population and growing influx of tourists is and will continue to be a challenge. In my opinion, the contribution of cyclists is a very favorable one in the overall transportation and quality-of-life picture.

Another myth that comes up in conversations about rules of the road is that cyclists don’t have a right to the full traffic lane. This is incorrect; cyclists have a legal right to the travel lane.

There are situations when, in order to stay safe and abide the flow of traffic, a cyclist must assert his or her presence in the full lane. Such situations include when there is a road hazard along the side of the road that a cyclist must avoid. An important added point here: Motorists can legally cross a solid center line to pass a cyclist who has moved over into the lane, provided it is safe to do so.

Tim Tabor rides through the roundabout at Center Street and 200 East in Ivins. Tabor is riding straight through. He is positioned within the lane, making him more visible to any vehicle that might enter to his right (from entrance point at bottom left of photo) and to the vehicle behind him. Ivins, Utah, Aug. 31, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Tim Tabor, St. George News
Tim Tabor rides through the roundabout at Center Street and 200 East in Ivins. Tabor is riding straight through. He is positioned within the lane, making him more visible to any vehicle that might enter to his right (from entrance point at bottom left of photo) and to the vehicle behind him. Ivins, Utah, Aug. 31, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Tim Tabor, St. George News

When at an intersection with multiple lanes, a cyclist should be fully in the lane of the direction of travel, especially if it’s the left-turn lane or the far right through lane. Motorists will then know what to expect and not inadvertently hit a cyclist who is unpredictably trying to ride across traffic.

And, finally, there is the potential traffic monster: the roundabout.

These circular hubs definitely take getting used to, something I’d say a fair number of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in Southern Utah are still working on. Here are tips for safely navigating a roundabout as a cyclist:

  • Just like motorists must do, yield to any traffic already in the roundabout.
  • When you can safely enter the roundabout at a speed that won’t hinder cars coming from other entrance points, do so by taking a strong presence in the lane (either in the middle or enough in the lane so motorists can tell where you are going), especially when making a left turn. For two-lane roundabouts, when entering, already be in the lane that is your intended route.
  • Make eye contact with other vehicles staging to enter and move through quickly to your exit point.
  • Stay in the lane until you feel it is safe to move over to the right edge of the lane nearing or once through the exit.

No need to be flustered by a roundabout monster. Ride on!

Resources

St. George News Road Respect column is developed with the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy organization devoted to making cycling safe and convenient for everyone who rides a bike. Opinions stated are those of the columnist and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • outsider_100@hotmail.com September 3, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Fair observations…..
    Couple things that might improve relations between cyclists and drivers:
    1. Cyclists must obey traffic signals, even if there is no cross traffic while waiting at a stop light. Respecting stop lights and yield signs is a no brainer for most.
    2. Riding single file and respecting bike lane lines. Riding two or three abreast causes more animosity between bike riders, and drivers, than almost any other behavior. Why tempt fate?
    SW Washington County is typically a bike friendly community, and there are plenty of well designed and clearly designated trails to utilize. While I have my concerns about distracted drivers maintaining their lane alignment, we cyclists can be more aware of how we are perceived.

  • .... September 3, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    it’s amazing that people are smart enough to get a driver’s license and yet to stupid to understand what pedestrian crossing means. and to stupid to know it’s against the law to park on a sidewalk. or don’t know what. .do not leave children unattended in a car means. or to stupid to know what. .do not leave pets in locked cars means.

    • ladybugavenger September 4, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Who is this imposter using the word to?

      • .... September 4, 2016 at 1:23 pm

        ♡♡♡♡♡ two too to tue 2 22 222

  • NotSoFast September 3, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    Leaving the round a bout subject for another day, Why not put a .25% increase on the gas tax and transportation needs purchases? All tourist buy gas when in town right?. Why a increase in the sales tax? I say, throw the sales tax increase proposal in the trash. If bicycle riders feel guilty and want to do their share, add a increase for all transportation purchases only. Like gas, tires, helmets, flashy lite bulbs, riding goggles, hand pumps, etc. And why not put a toll fee for the use and up keep of thousands of yards of special bike paths? Seems only fair to me.

  • beacon September 3, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Voters would be wise to not be duped into voting for the .25% sales tax in November under the guise of helping our roads. Leaders raised the gasoline tax in 2015 along with giving local entities the opportunity to have voters tax themselves even more this year. If the effort is to have tourists help pay for our roads, then leaders need to come up with another idea to focus their efforts better. They’ve moved money that would have gone to transportation into water projects that we don’t need and now are asking voters to tax themselves even more to help make up the difference. This it nothing but a shell game and voters should reject this effort and send lawmakers back to the drawing board in the 2017 legislative session.

  • Not_So_Much September 4, 2016 at 8:09 am

    NO to any and all tax increases no matter how it’s sugar coated.

  • RealMcCoy September 5, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Here is the flaw in your logic, however:
    “I pay automobile registration fees and gas taxes just like a noncycling motorist.”

    Okay, fine.
    Now tell me why a cyclist gets to use the roads without paying an additional tax like someone with an ATV or UTV.

    I, too, pay for my vehicles. I also have to pay the tax for my ATV to be driving on the road to and from the local ATV trails. Why?

    If anything, by your logic I should have MORE of a right to be on the road than a cyclist, as I pay the registration tax for the ATV, and the fuel tax.

    If “I pay automobile registration fees and gas taxes just like a noncycling motorist” means your secondary transportation is free, then ATV use should fall under that category as well.

    • .... September 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Well the secret to this whole situation is time travel. I went to a local department store and bought a time machine. a turn of a knob here, a turn of knob there. flick a switch here and there push this button push that button.
      a little shaking. a bright light now and then. badda bing badda boom I just traveled across town. oh btw. Elvis said hello !

      • RealMcCoy September 7, 2016 at 2:17 pm

        Then what I REALLY need is a DeLorean with a flux capacitor, or a TARDIS.
        What would the registration taxes be on those, I wonder…

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