Wednesday May 22, 2013

As was reported on May 20, fire consumed a home on Silk Road, resulting in what Bennington Rural Fire Department assistant chief John Scutt called "a total loss." The owner, Mr. Andrew Sherman, and his boxer-rottweiler mix Alice, are safe.

However, they are in immediate need of monetary donations, as well as clothing, non-perishable food items, and dog food. Contributions can be sent to, or dropped off at the following sites: Faller’s Music Company, 170 North St., Bennington, and Shaffe’s Men Shop, 475 Main St., Bennington.

Thank you for your kindness and generosity.

CHRIS MURPHY

Bennington

More thoughts on cycling safely

I’d like to thank Audrey Pietrucha for her thoughtful and even-handed column on the challenges of mixed traffic, cars and bicycles, in Bennington.

Certainly cyclists can be their own worst enemies in traffic. As Audrey points out, cyclists in Vermont have "all the duties and responsibilities" of drivers of vehicles; stopping at stop signs, obeying traffic signals, riding with the flow of traffic, signaling their intentions. For every cyclist you see obeying these rules, you’re likely to see several who don’t.

This in turn makes it more difficult for law-abiding cyclists, because motor vehicle drivers don’t know what to expect from them.

Conversely, cyclists often feel uncomfortable in traffic, both because of their vulnerability and the occasional hostility they experience from motor vehicle drivers. Many people who might like to travel by bicycle don’t because they don’t feel safe, and because they don’t know how to handle complex traffic situations legally and safely.

The answer to many of these problems is education. Adult cyclists may know the rules of the road, but may not have ever seen what it looks like to use them on a bike. Drivers are often unaware that cyclists have rights and obligations on the road similar to theirs.

If you are interested in cycling, but aren’t sure just how to follow the rules of the road as they apply to cyclists, there are some excellent training programs available. The League or American Bicyclists offers the "Traffic Skills 101" program, and the Cycling Savvy program, developed by the Florida Bicycling Association and taught at numerous sites nationwide (including here in Vermont) can offer you programs that will give you the skills and confidence to use your bicycle for transportation.

One other thing; though it is true that the number one complaint of motorists is cyclists riding two abreast, the fact is that riding single file doesn’t make a particular road any wider, and most of our roads are not wide enough to safely pass a cyclist in the same lane. In this case, the only safe way to pass is to use the oncoming lane when there is safe distance and visibility to do so. Riding single file should not be seen by motorists as an invitation to try to "squeeze by" in the lane.

And as Audrey points out, the first rule of traffic should be the Golden Rule.

BRUCE LIERMAN, LCI, CSI

North Bennington