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City Streets an Urban Hazard for Anchorage Cyclists

Published On: Jan 03 2014 05:45:34 PM AKST

The day following a fatal collision between a vehicle and bicyclist in Anchorage, a winter cyclists discusses what it takes to stay safe on city roads. 

Reporter: Garrett Turner / Photojournalist: Dan Carpenter (KTUU-TV)


Anchorage’s biking community avoided a single bicycle-vehicle fatality through all of 2013, but just two days into the New Year, a cyclist has been killed.

Records from Anchorage police show a total of 49 bicycle-vehicle collisions last year, but none resulted in a cyclist death. The majority of them occurred north of Tudor Road, where congestion is thick and traffic speeds are high.

It’s a part of town where sharing the road is a challenge, especially in the winter.

"My recommendations for cyclists or anybody that's intending to cross the roadway, would be to do it at a controlled intersection where there's a controlled walk signal," APD Sgt. Roy LeBlanc said.

Nicholas Carman knows well what became a deadly bike route yesterday. He rides along western Northern Lights all the time, and said biking in Anchorage requires cyclists to contend both with difficult road conditions as well as with aggressive drivers.

"Given urban traffic patterns, riding on the sidewalk isn't always the safest place to be, even though it's perceived by some motorists in Anchorage to be the place where cyclists should be riding," Carman said.

Carman said there are several hazards urban cyclists should know when riding in Anchorage. He says left hand turns for cyclists that are yielding for other traffic can be difficult. He said the "right hand hook" is a common move for cyclists at intersections, but requires awareness by everyone using the road.

"Cyclists want to continue through the intersection on the sidewalk, but the car that is taking a right hand turn doesn't notice," Carman said. "As they slow down the cyclist is approaching the intersection as well. The car hits the cyclist as they're going through the intersection."

For more on Alaska’s bicycle laws, visit the Department of Transportation’s bike safety page.