Monday, January 5, 2009

Bicycling: For Fun, Fuel Efficiency, and Family

Do you enjoy your commute to work in the morning? Randy Daily of Collinsville does! Mr. Daily is a physical therapist that rides his bicycle to and from work each day. Visiting clients in their homes, he rides an average of twenty miles per day. I recently met Mr. Daily, and his daughter Liliana, on a chilly December day to talk about the benefits and difficulties of cycling in Martinsville and Henry County.

Mr. Daily rode bikes most of his childhood but really became a serious rider when he decided to ride from Roanoke, Virginia to the west coast with friends in the 1980s. After the 75-day trip he was hooked! It led him to a new hobby full of weekend bike rides, long distance rides, and bike races.

After getting married and having a family of four children, Mr. Daily saw that he no longer had as much time for long rides and training for races meant spending less time with his family. He opted to trade in his racing bike for a more family friendly model and taught the kids to ride bikes too. Now 7-year old daughter Liliana is his main sidekick and wants to ride everywhere that dad does. She has a tag-along seat that attaches on the rear of her dad's bike so she can ride safely. They noted that motorists are very polite when they see the duo pedaling together and allow them plenty of room. When Mr. Daily is pedaling solo he said it can be a little frighting sometime as the cars do not always give him the proper space required by Virginia law.
When riding on a highway, bicycles are considered a vehicle and must follow traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings just as a car would. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), "motorists must approach and pass a bicyclist at a reasonable speed at least two feet to the left of the bicyclist."

Groups such as the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) and Activate Martinsville-Henry County are working together to create a network of bike lanes and trails that will provide connectivity for residents and visitors to our area. DRBA is in the process of developing the Smith River Trail System, a 45-mile long series of trails that will follow the Smith River from Philpott Dam to Eden, NC.

This series of proposed trails (shown below in light blue) includes the Fieldale Trail (shown below in green) on River Road in Fieldale, VA. One mile of trail was completed in 2007 thanks to support from the Dominion Foundation and an additional 1.5 miles of trail will open in March 2009. The Smith River Trail System will eventually link to the 4.5 mile long Rail Trail (shown below in red) being constructed by Henry County and allow pedestrians to travel from Fieldale to Uptown Martisnville without ever having to cross a busy street!

Activate plans to connect to these trails with bike lanes (shown at left in dark blue) allowing cyclists to safely maneuver busy roads such as Virginia Avenue, Liberty Street, and Kings Mountain Road. They also have future plans to create bike lanes connecting from Uptown Martinsville to the new Soccer Complex on Irisburg Road.

Together these paths and lanes will lead to a better quality of life, connectivity for non-motorized transportation, and more opportunities for recreation. All factors that will make Martinsville and Henry County a more desirable place to live and visit.
The Daily family loves cycling and go riding together as much as they can. They recommend cycling as a fun family activity for others as well. The following are tips for Safe Bicycling suggested by VDOT.

Be a responsible bicyclist - obey all traffic control devices and use proper hand signals.
Always ride with the flow of traffic.

Dress safely - wear a helmet, wear bright colored clothing, and secure loose pant legs.

Ride defensively - anticipate the actions of other road users and watch for road hazards.

Pass vehicles with extreme care - turning vehicles may not see you.

Be aware of motor vehicle blind spots whether while riding or when stopped at an intersection.

Maximize your visibility at night - wear reflective clothing and apply reflective tape to your bicycle.

Walk your bicycle when you get into traffic situations beyond your cycling abilities.

Park your bicycle so you do not block sidewalks, handicap and building accesses, or emergency drives.

Lock your bicycle - secure both wheels and the frame to a stationary object using a sturdy lock.
More information on bicycle safety can be found by clicking here.

Article and Photos by: Jennifer Doss

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