UNA and Florence communities pledge to ‘Share the Road’

Patrick Shremshock rides a bike across campus March 16 to celebrate the Share the Road campaign.

St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Downtown Florence included a parade of decorated bicycles as part of an effort to educate the campus and Shoals communities about roadway safety.

The Outdoor Adventure Club’s third annual “Share the Road” Campaign began March 16 and lasts through March 20.

“The ‘Share the Road’ program aims to encourage a bicycle-friendly campus, and hopefully a bicycle-friendly city, in the near future,” said OAC volunteer Savannah Herbst. “It’s an effort to raise awareness of the rules of the road to bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.”

A sea of green T-shirts filled downtown as cyclists paraded through the city, beginning and ending at The Spinning Spoke Cycle Hub.

“Our T-shirts this year are green because we’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and we want to tie that into making sure people wear bright colors for safety,” said OAC coordinator McKenzie Martin.

The primary goal of the program is getting 500 students, faculty and staff members, and Florence residents to pledge safety on roadways.

“Every year we’ve exceeded our goal,” Herbst said. “During the campaign, anybody who comes to the GUC will be educated and asked to sign the pledge.”

Volunteers and OAC staff members are manning tables on the first floor of the GUC from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this week. Visitors can sign the pledge, take a survey about bicycling and check out a bike to ride around campus.

Herbst said students can ride the bikes for 10 minutes to help raise safety awareness on campus.

“We want UNA and the Florence community to feel safe whether they’re walking or biking,” Martin said. “This is really more of a ‘rules of the road’ awareness.”

Senior OAC staff member Chris Walker said the campaign provides a platform to address the lack of bike lanes in Florence.

“It’s very unsafe in this area,” Walker said. “People don’t know things like the law being bikes can take the whole lane.”

He said he hopes community becomes awareness of bicycles on roadways prompts the implementation of designated lanes for bikes in Florence.

During 2012, 726 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents, accounting for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The administration’s April 2014 Traffic Safety Facts report indicated 2012 saw 6 percent more cyclist fatalities than the 682 killed in 2011.

Martin also referenced other benefits of bicycling rather than driving.

“Riding bikes is a healthy means of transportation, especially with our parking problem,” she said.

Herbst said she hopes student organizations get involved with the campaign in the future because “more involvement means more awareness.”