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More than 100 years ago, cyclists helped push for the development of paved roads in America. But these days, they're not always safe there — in Utah, six bike riders die on roads every year, and some 850 are injured.

A group of cyclists and officials want to help change that by riding more than 500 miles in six days to raise safety awareness.

Dressed in back and yellow, "they're going to be a moving billboard to educate folks on road safety and bike safety," said Utah Highway Patrol Col. Daniel Fuhr.

The safety campaign, "Road Respect, Cars and Bikes rules to Live By," kicked off the statewide bike tour at the Intermodal Transportation Hub in Salt Lake City Sunday.

Fuhr's message to a relative who said bikes should stay off the roadways: "You will overpower a bike every single time, but that doesn't give you the right to dominate the road."

Getting hit, or seeing someone else struck, is "a life changing experience," said cyclist Tara McKee. In addition to physical injury, she said, it can give people panic attacks and make them fear ever getting back on a bike.

But along with motorists, cyclists also need safety lessons about wearing clothing that can be easily seen by drivers, staying aware and being especially careful if switching from the sidewalk to the road.

"It's a two-way message," said Carlos Braceras, deputy director of the Utah Department of Transportation.

The Road Respect campaign started last year, and, perhaps not coincidentally, Utah jumped from number 31 to number 13 on the League of American Bicyclists' lists of bike-friendly states.

"It's an incredible jump, and it goes to show what we're doing today as a state," said Bike Utah's executive director, Scott Lyttle. "Bike safety is an endless campaign that needs to start in schools."

The statewide bike tour begins Monday in St. George and ends Saturday with a 100-mile ride from Salt Lake City to Logan. The cyclists will have rides and rallies all over the state, from Moab to Vernal to Park City, over the course of the week. For more info, see

Twitter: @lwhitehurst —

Safety tips for drivers

Give cyclists at least three feet of space.

Always watch for cyclists.

Don't underestimate cyclists' speed.

Expected the unexpected from children on bikes.

When turning left, yield to cyclists approaching from the opposite direction.

Safety tips for cyclists

Ride single file in traffic.

Ride in the same direction as traffic.

Always use hand signals.

Be visible.

Remember driving laws also apply to cyclists.