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Texting drivers among the top dangers for Auburn-area cyclists

?Stay noticed? is a common safety refrain as good weather signals more road cycling
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Be safe but also be noticed. It?s a common refrain in the cycling community as the spring rains subside and the warm weather beckons bicycle riders onto Auburn-area roads to enjoy Placer County?s scenic beauty and get some exercise. Since her husband?s death after being struck by a car while cycling on Highway 174 near Colfax on Jan. 31, 2010, Nevada County?s Carolyn Jones-Rogers has been passionately spreading the message to be alert behind the wheel when driving. Jim Rogers, 53, was struck from behind by a driver who was eventually charged in Placer County with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. Last July, with the trial delayed several times, Rogers? family successfully requested that charges be dropped. Jones-Rogers, a teacher at Sierra Hills School in Meadow Vista, said the message she and her teenage son, Nate, have been spreading at local school assemblies is that people need to stay alert while driving - or risk a similar accident. That includes not using cell phones or texting, she said. After more than two years, Jones-Rogers said one of her favorite memories of her husband revolves around his return home from a ride and the feeling of elation he spread to the people he knew. ?It did something for his soul,? Jones-Rogers said. Jones-Rogers said she has realized since Jim?s death that while it may sometimes feel like an ?us vs. them? situation on the roads with cyclists and motorists, nobody wants to kill another person and the key is to be aware of the dangers. ?We?re not going to get Jim back and the woman was grieving horribly,? Jones-Rogers said. ?It?s really about ?us for us.?? For cyclists, Jones-Rogers said being noticed by drivers is of utmost importance. She suggests wearing neon-green colored clothing, installing flashing lights, and using a wave whenever possible to attract motorists? attention. ?If you have a car coming up, a nice friendship wave may help attract the attention of someone who might not necessarily see you,? she said. Mike Thompson, manager of Auburn Bike Works, said he?s been backed into, had people cut him off and experienced several close calls while riding on streets. ?In Auburn, I mainly stick to dirt roads and trails because there isn?t a tremendous amount of safe areas on roads for cyclists,? Thompson said. Thompson said he tries to make sure he has reflectors and lights on, even having them flashing during the day in the same way motorcyclists do. ?The other thing I do is always wear my helmet and gloves,? he said. ?And if you?re not comfortable or able to turn your neck to look, I recommend using a rearview mirror that can either be put on your helmet, glasses or handlebars.? Oliver Bell, Victory Vello bike shop store manager in Downtown Auburn, said that the Amgen Tour of California?s presence has helped to lessen the hostility that may have been present in the past with cyclists. ?Everybody seems to know someone who is cycling,? Bell said. Bell said he?s been struck by autos three times but has been lucky enough not to suffer serious injuries. Bell said he rides to be noticed by drivers, even if that means getting a little closer to the roadway. ?I stay just next to the white line to keep in their sight lines,? Bell said. ?And my hope is that drivers will give me space whenever possible, particularly when they can move over when there are not cars on the left. Sharing the road goes a long way.?