Hailey’s City Council last week acknowledged the mortal threat of cyclists using hand-held cell phones when it unanimously approved a ban on the activity.
Blaine County and its other cities should follow Hailey’s lead to try to improve safety on the valley’s extensive multi-use paths. All of them should go a step further and ban both hand-held and hands-free cell phone use by anyone who is moving on the path.
Hailey’s ban came at the behest of Mayor Fritz Haemmerle, an avid cyclist. He told the council that he had seen an inordinate number of people riding with cell phones held to their ears.
Haemmerle knows the perils of cycling well. In 2017, he suffered multiple fractures after a bike tire blew as he was biking in Utah.
The mix of users—pedestrians, including kids and dogs, cyclists on both conventional and electric bikes, skateboarders and others riding e-scooters—is a swirling tangle of threats during busy times in congested areas.
Cell phones, which disengage their users from what is going on around them, add another layer of threat to already high danger on a busy day.
Study after study have demonstrated the potentially lethal distraction posed by cell phone use while operating a moving vehicle. It’s not debatable, despite the fact that many individuals claim to be superior in the “multi-tasking” involved.
Residents and visitors love riding and walking the Wood River Trail and city pathways. An ounce of prevention will make them safer as use continues to grow.
No one should have to die before cell phone use is banned on all the valley’s developed paths.