Cyclist Deaths Highlight Rider Dangers

Jun 2, 2014

Two Wyoming bicyclists have been killed in the past several days, spurring calls from Wyoming’s cycling community for increased rider awareness and safety legislation.

'Bicyclists use extreme caution' sign.
Credit Richard Masoner via Flickr Creative Commons

On Friday, Matthew Harker, 39, died of brain trauma—one day after he was struck by an SUV in Casper.

On Saturday, 65-year-old Larry Hurst of Sheridan was killed after he and his wife were struck by a vehicle in on U.S. Highway 87 in Sheridan. His wife, Sarah, was critically injured in the crash and taken to a hospital in Billings.

Cycle Wyoming President Amber Travsky says tragedies like this are reminders of just what’s at stake for bicyclists.

“It’s scary stuff, because whether the bicyclist is right or wrong, we can’t tango with a two-ton piece of metal,” Travsky said. “We’ll lose no matter who’s at fault. It’s just scary, and it does nothing to promote cycling.”

Travsky says the state should adopt a ‘safe passing law’—which would require motorists to pass cyclists only when road conditions allow for a buffer between them. Many states have adopted laws calling for a 3-foot buffer.

“I would like to see a distance of five feet,” Travsky said, “where you can’t, as a motorist, pass a bike unless it’s safe for you to pass with that kind of a buffer.”

Last month, the League of American Bicyclists released its annual report, showing that Wyoming had dropped 3 spots in the bike-friendliness rankings since last year, and now ranks 36th.