It was a long winter but spring finally is here.
With the change in the weather, I'm excited to lengthen my cycling rides as part of my Pelotonia training, and I imagine that many of you will be outside more often, as well.
Healthy pursuits are important to many New Albany families, so much so that health and wellness is one of our community pillars.
While doing so, however, please remember to keep safety in mind. We all can agree that physical activity is good for us and helps us be the best we can be.
That said, if we aren't smart about where we exercise, an accident or injury quickly could curtail the fruits of our labor.
As mayor, I've had many conversations with residents and guests who, while driving, almost hit a walker, runner or cyclist simply because they didn't see them.
Often, these drivers explain that people were exercising on the road at dawn or at dusk with no reflective materials or lights, and some were even wearing black or dark clothes, making them blend into the darkness even more. Black might be slimming but it is not helpful in making sure you are visible to motorists.
I love riding my bike and I have to admit that the vast majority of my rides are on roadways. So I'm asking all cyclists to take a step back and think about your personal safety before starting your ride.
Have you gone through a checklist to make sure your bike is safe and ready for the ride?
Are you wearing high-visibility or reflective materials?
Are you wearing your helmet?
Are your lights charged and working?
Imagine you're a motorist: Will you be seen easily or simply blend in with the scenery?
I also have lots of running and walking friends. I know some elect to run or walk on our well-paved roadways instead of the 36 miles of trails in New Albany.
When runners and walkers venture into car country, it is critical that they, too, make every effort to ensure high visibility. Please make sure to wear bright colors with reflective materials and even consider wearable lights. Safety always should be part of your routine.
In short, please make a commitment to yourselves and your families to exercise safely. There always will be some risk in exercising, but each of us can take steps to mitigate those risks.
If you cycle, at a minimum make sure your bike is safe for the activity, wear a helmet and be visible to motorists.
If you cycle, run or walk in the roadway when it is dark, please wear reflective clothing or lights to be seen more easily.
Now get out there and enjoy the weather we've waited for so long -- safely.
Sloan Spalding is mayor of New Albany.