Summer road cyclists facing constant danger - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Summer road cyclists facing constant danger

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Of course this is the season when many people are taking long bike rides; some even gearing up for RAGBRAI, with that comes safety concerns.

A bicyclist was killed this weekend during a bicycle tour ride on a rural road. It happened in Ridgeway, Wisconsin, just east of Dodgeville, at about 8-30 a.m. Saturday.

16-year-old Eric Hendrickson was driving a Chevy pick-up truck and turned in front of the bicycle, which ran into the passanger side of the truck.

Cyclist 62-year-old Allen Belonger of Waukesha was wearing his helmet, but died at a nearby hospital shortly after the crash from neck and head injuries.

Cyclists and emergency officials alike say both bikers and drivers have to work together, especially when they're sharing a road with no bike lanes.

Connie Bandy Hodge bikes all over the tri-state area and goes out riding three to four times a week. That means she deals regularly with sharing the road.

"As a biker, you need to know that you are so vulnerable. I mean, you have no vehicle protection," Bandy Hodge said. "Almost all of us have had close calls."

Being prepared is the first step -- starting with headgear.

"It's amazing how you can get so severly injured by not wearing a helmet," Dubuque Police Captain Russ Stecklein said.

Also important, bike lights and visible clothing, but even with the right safety equipment, Stecklein says, "It seems sometimes that motorists don't have the same respect for a bicyclist that they would for another vehicle on the street."

Stecklein is one of five people who patrol Dubuque on bikes, and says the biggest thing is making sure everyone: car, bike, pedestrian or otherwise, is paying attention to each other.

"What people in motor vehicles have to realize is that a bicyclist has as much right to the roadway as what a car does or any type of motor vehicle, and we always tell bicyclists you've just got to be careful because sometimes people just aren't paying attention to their driving."

"Don't ever take for granted that someone sees you. Get eye contact with them. Do hand gestures. Thank them for being courteous. Just communication and respect is really, really important," Bandy Hodge said.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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