Becoming a bike-friendly community
Since the southern-most trailhead of the Allegheny Highlands Trail is at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center, Elkins is well on its way to becoming an even more bike-able community. The Welcome Center has biking maps and trail information available.
As a cyclist, it is your responsibility to ride safely and considerately, and as a driver, it is your responsibility to share the road and coexist with bicyclists. Here is some advice that will help keep you and others safe while biking and driving:
1. Always wear a helmet. Even the professionals wear helmets because they know that plenty of accidents happen while biking and protecting the head and brain should be the number one priority. Every year, hundreds of bicyclists die in traffic accidents involving motor vehicles, and thousands more are injured.
2. Share the trail or road, and yield the right of way. Remember, bikers should yield to foot traffic and horses. It can also be good to stop completely and let the horses pass as to not spook them. Descending riders should also yield to climbing riders considering they are working a heck of a lot harder going uphill than down. Speaking of rolling down a hill at top notch speed, it is respectful to ride in control and pay attention to your surroundings. Stay in your lane at blind corners and if you need to pass someone, slow down and verbally announce yourself.
3. As a motor vehicle operator, know the cyclist’s rights. Bicyclists can use the roadways like a motor vehicle, except on major highways. West Virginia laws require bikers stay as close to the right side of the road as possible and must move in the same direction as traffic. Bicyclists are always required to abide by the same rules of the road as a motor vehicle operator. For example, bicyclists cannot run stop signs or red lights, nor can they turn without using a hand signal. To use a crosswalk, bikers must dismount and become a pedestrian. As a driver, be on the lookout for these signals to understand which direction the cyclist is going. If you plan to pass the biker, make sure to give them breathing room, at least 3 feet of space.
*An important note for motor vehicle operators: Please get off of your phone while driving and pay attention!
4. Plan ahead. If choosing to ride out on your own make sure you tell a friend where you are going and when you’ll be returning. Make sure you have enough food and water for your bike trip.
5. Be kind to Mother Nature. Keep off muddy roads and trails if at all possible. Do not cut ruts and try not to spin your tires. Mother Nature has a mind of her own so if the trail is blocked by a tree or obstructed in some way, shape or form, take a photo and write down the exact location so you can let the organization who maintains the trail know of the issue.
Bicycling is on the rise. People are taking it up for exercise, to reduce commuting costs, or to practice social distancing. We can all work together and keep these cycling safety tips in mind the next time we go for a bike ride or drive.
Director of Marketing
Elkins-Randolph County Tourism Convention and Visitors Bureau