Jonathan Pierson, an avid Provo biker since 2009, has been hit four times in recent years, twice on the same road.
“I was going down 500 North towards my house,” said Pierson, a senior in BYU’s accounting program. “I was coming up on an intersection, and the car decided it wanted to turn right. It was behind me but decided it could go around me and cut me off.”
That’s when they crashed. Pierson sustained cuts and torn pants, but his bike wasn’t badly damaged.
“The lady got upset at me first because she said I was slowing down traffic and she had to get somewhere, but I was like, ‘Well, you hit me. It would’ve been two seconds slower to be patient,'” Pierson said. “I don’t feel too bad about the fact that I got hit. But I feel like there are too many instances of that. They’re (drivers) too much in a hurry.”
Some drivers and bikers believe hostility, lack of education and disregard for road rules are at the source of the biker-driver conflict.
BYU graduate Derik Flanary, 27, is another biker who’s had conflict on the road because others didn’t know the law.
“If there’s something Provo City could do, they could probably post things on social media about the rules of the road, like maybe infographics,” Flanary said.
The Provo Bicycle Collective, a nonprofit group, works to raise awareness of bike safety. Posts on its Facebook page tell volunteers about meetings, activities or resources for bike upkeep.
Websites dedicated to bike safety also provide resources. BikeProvo.org contains a list of suggested laws bikers should know.
“Carrying (this page guide) in your wallet can help you educate local residents or even officers that may not be particularly familiar with the law,” said one BikeProvo.org member.
Leigh Ferre, a crime analyst at the Provo City Police, said her department has recently started keeping track of cyclist numbers. From January to the end of June this year 469 bikes were registered in Provo. The department focuses on teaching people measures they can take to prevent theft. A Provo City code states that bicycle licensing is required, but it also aids in investigating bike theft.
“We’ve started doing a lot of education (on bike safety),” Ferre said.
One of the laws listed (41-6a-1105) in the document prepared by Jordan Englund states, “A person operating a bicycle … on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic … shall ride as near as practicable to the right-hand edge of the roadway except when: (a) overtaking and passing … (b) preparing to make a left turn … (c) traveling straight through an intersection … or (d) reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe.”
Some drivers, like sophomore Samantha Madsen, don’t believe city measures like adding bike lanes around the city are effective.
“I feel like they’re a waste of money because most bikers don’t know how to use them,” Madsen said.
“The priority is that cyclists and motorists are able to live together,” Pierson said of the improvements. “Make the infrastructure available to both demographics.”