Bicyclists need to take care |

Bicyclists need to take care

The last Monday in May is always Memorial Day, it is also a time for drivers to lookout for bicyclists who ignore traffic laws or pedestrians who jaywalk.

Police say the number of injury accidents at South Lake Tahoe goes up considerably when warmer weather brings an increased number of bikes, cars and people.

In July 2000, 22 fatal or injury traffic accidents occurred: two involved people out walking, another injured a person riding a bicycle. Last May, police reported 12 fatal or injury accidents.

Many wrecks happen when bicyclists ignore red lights, said South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Chuck Owens.

“If the light is red, and I’m a car making a right-hand turn, and boom he gets hammered, and it’s not going to be the fault of the driver,” Owens said. “Many bicyclists do not believe they have to abide by the same laws as cars do, such as stop signs.”

The intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and Sierra Boulevard is one place people on bikes are particularly reckless because they think the roads are controlled with stop signs, said Sgt. Steve O’Brien.

“It appears to be a t-intersection. It’s actually controlled by traffic signals,” he said. “The bicyclist will be headed westbound on Highway 50 and just not make any attempt to stop.”

O’Brien said he’s seen the most deaths result from jaywalking at night across the four lanes of Highway 50.

Walkers only have right of way when a traffic signal tells them they do. If they go against a traffic light, police are allowed to ticket them.

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