Bike racing is a sport with growing popularity in around KU’s campus and especially the Midwest. Teams from as far as the University of Minnesota traveled to the first ever Jayhawk Cycling Classic in Lawrence, Kansas. The event was a combination of events in which riders partake in a road race on Saturday, and a Criterium on Sunday.
The riders understand that speed is often a downfall to safety due to collisions with other riders and, depending on the race, Motor Vehicles. Rodger Harrison has helped out with KU Cycling club for over 20 years and knows first hand the dangers of road racing.
“I was riding down Missouri (highway) 9 and had lights on both the front and the back of my car and the next thing I knew I was waking up in a North Kansas City Hospital two-and-a-half days later,” said Harrison when asked what he remembered about his hit-and-run accident.
The accident left him in the middle of the street where he would have died if not for a lady who saw him lying in the middle of the road. But incidents like this happen more often than one might think. A car also hit Benn Stover, a member of the KU Cycling Team while he was on a practice ride.
“Somebody took a right on red without stopping while I was going through the intersection, they hit me with the front right end of their car,” Stover remembered. “I took the side mirror off with my neck and that left an abrasion.”
While these events were bad they were still lucky to walk away from the incident. Glenda Taylor did not have that luck last summer. Taylor was warming up for the Kansas State Trials near Walnut, Kansas with a large group of people. Harrison was driving as the sweeper for the group when he was flagged down to help Taylor who was on the side of the road. Harrison says that from his understanding the driver claimed to be going only 20 Miles-per-hour but Harrison believes the aftermath showed differently.
“One wheel was over there, her frame was over there, and another wheel was way up there,” said Harrison who pointed in three different directions of his body. “He must have hit her at 50 or 60 miles an hour. I’m not an expert but it was not 20 miles an hour.”
Kansas nationwide has a relatively low fatality rate for cyclist, according to a study by Governing.com. Kansas has only 1.2 deaths per one million residents, which is below the national average of 2.3 deaths per 1 million. Other surrounding states are also below the national average but some are higher than the state of Kansas. Oklahoma sits at 1.3 deaths per capita and Colorado is 1.9. The other two connecting states sit below Kansas with Nebraska and Oklahoma with .7 and .8 respectively.
The city of Lawrence in particularly is a Bike Friendly City, according to The League of American Bicyclists. But city officials are not satisfied with the Bronze ranking the received last year. They would like to increase their ranking when they re-apply this spring. They say that some of the new implementations they have this year might push them over the edge to silver.
“The League of American bicyclist has an instructor certification program we added 15 of those instructors last year to the community,” said Stephen Mason, a Parks and Recreation, Recreation Center Programmer.
Some cyclist realize that there is a two way street to safety but they believe that the best way to keep everyone safe is for a mutual respect to be formed.