On Nov. 2, in the middle of the night, another bicyclist was struck and killed while riding on route 101 in Keene. The fact remains to be seen whether it was a tragic accident, inebriated maliciousness or something worse.

What probably will be glossed over is this brutal fact: Riding Route 101 from Keene to Marlborough means threat of death or injury for the bicyclist, and has for years.

When I lived in Marlborough, I quickly learned that riding a bicycle on that road was very, very dangerous. It was only to be attempted by the very brave, or desperate or single minded, none of which would fit my profile. I’ve been run over one too many times in my life.

Keon Ioannou’s death is a real tragedy, and Keene has lost one of its key movers, but hopefully that will not be the end of the story. I propose Keene and Marlborough finally get linked with a dedicated bike path, in honor of all the persons who have died trying to commute on Route 101.

A dedicated bicycle/pedestrian, multi-use, accessible paved pathway has been lacking for too long. I realize the terrain is such that widening the road is not yet feasible, so, what to do?

There is, of course, the old railroad bed. But that, again, is not for the faint of heart. Besides, there are no river crossings or access.

State law mandates a 3-foot passing zone around all bicyclists, but this does not seem to fly well on 101.

It’s about time we had proper, safe bicycle lanes, not only on Route 101 from Keene to Marlborough, but on every major thoroughfare in Keene. The state of affairs for the poor bicyclist is nigh on impossible.

If you ride your bike to work, most people would assume that you have to, either because you lost your license or, worse still, you don’t have a car.

Most drivers today don’t realize it was bicyclists in the 1880s who led the charge to pave the roads, much to the chagrin of the horse-and-buggy folks. It wasn’t until the roads were made smooth for the bicyclists that the automobile inventors started claiming the pavement as their own. Bicyclists have been kicked to the curb ever since, along with the horses and buggies.

I ride a bike to work because it’s easier to find a place to park. Plus, I need the exercise, and the fresh air and sunshine, or moonlight as the case may be. In winter it’s a bit more of a survival test, keeping fit while saving wear and tear on the car.

I have heard that in some corporations, bicyclists have been passed over for promotion because someone thought they looked shabby. I myself would not want to be penalized for a little bike grease on my pant leg, or a case of helmet hair.

I think someone who rides their bike to work is not only saving the planet, but they experience firsthand the thrill of almost getting run over. Seriously, it’s a great way to get around town, but you’ve got to have one eye on the road and another on the traffic. That’s right, never assume that a driver sees you. Then you can enjoy nature and get some exercise, but watch out for that pothole filled with broken glass!

Until we get dedicated bicycle lanes, and the drivers respect them, Keon’s tragic last ride is just another cautionary tale.

Marcus McCarroll writes from Keene.

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