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Geoff Liesik, Deseret News
Traffic moves over to give a two Road Respect riders on a tandem bike more room as they ride along state Route 191 north of Vernal on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Road Respect is a grass-roots campaign to raise awareness about the need for increased respect between drivers and cyclists.

VERNAL — The 30 cyclists in black and gold Lycra who rolled through town Thursday weren't just pedaling their bikes, they were also peddling a message.

"If everybody shows respect for each other and understands the rules of the road, then we shouldn't have any conflict and we shouldn't have any problems," said Clyde Stauffer, a rider and route planner for Road Respect.

"Bikes and cars can coexist on the road at the same time," he said.

Road Respect is a 2-year-old grass-roots campaign sponsored by the state Department of Public Safety and Bike Utah, in cooperation with the Utah Department of Transportation. Its goal is to promote awareness between drivers and cyclists, and by week's end it will have taken its message to communities from St. George to Logan.

For drivers, that means reminding them that Utah law gives cyclists the same right to be on the roads that it affords to motorists. And that drivers are required to move over at least 3 feet when passing anyone on a bicycle, and shouldn't underestimate a cyclist's speed.

But like any good relationship, Stauffer said, the respect must go both ways.

"Cyclists need to obey the rules of the road," he said. "Ride on the correct side of the road, ride single file, don't impede traffic, (and) avoid situations that could potentially be catastrophic for the rider, because in a conflict between a bike and a car, a biker is always going to lose."

In 2011, five cyclists lost their lives on Utah's roads, according to the group Zero Fatalities. That number was down from seven deaths the previous year.

To promote bike safety among children, each Road Respect tour stop has included a community event, like a bike rodeo.

Mary Jane Huber brought her four children to the event in Vernal last week. Road Respect riders helped her properly fit her children's helmets and quizzed the kids on the rules of riding on the road, before the kids went through a bike course set up by Bureau of Indian Affairs police officers and the TriCounty Health Department.

"It allowed my kids to see, OK, this is what we do at a stop sign and a yield sign, and I love it," Huber said. "I'm so glad I brought them down."

The Road Respect tour wrapped up Saturday when the team road from Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City to the Cache County Courthouse in Logan, with stops in Bountiful, Riverdale, Ogden and Brigham City.

Geoff Liesik

Twitter: GeoffLiesik