TOWNSEND -- A sure sign of summer is the proliferation of people on the roads. It is a time for caution. Not everyone is safely tucked away inside a motor vehicle.
Cyclists, walkers, skateboarders and others hit the pavement when the weather permits.
"It's a double-edged sword," Police Lt. David Profit said.
"Drivers have to be cautious of cyclists and vice versa," he said.
The major roads through Townsend, Routes 13 and 119, do not have many sidewalks and the shoulders are narrow. There is a minimum of room on the roadway.
"That doesn't help you with cycling," Profit said.
Although there is a "presumed risk" for people riding bicycles in the roadway, Profit had suggestions for drivers and nondrivers alike to increase safety.
Drivers need to minimize distractions and be patient with other users of the road.
Cyclists need to obey the rules of the road. This includes stopping at signs and lights and signaling turns.
Drivers will sometimes not see cyclists or motorcyclists because they can get distracted, he said.
"Do whatever you can to minimize that risk," Profit said. Do not ride in the middle of the road. Use a mirror and look behind you before turning.
The American League of Bicyclists also recommends wearing bright clothing and using bright lights and reflectors when the visibility is poor.
Young cyclists are especially at risk.
"Kids are not as cognizant of the rules of the road," Profit said,
"They feel like supermen or superwomen. I wish kids would wear their helmets," he said.
Through ongoing programs, the Townsend Police Department works with local youth to increase cycling safety.
When young riders are "caught" wearing their helmets, officers in cruisers can issue a certificate for a free, small ice cream cone.
The only problem is, the kids need to learn not to swarm the cruisers when they show up, just in case the officers are on a call, Profit said.
Every child who redeems a certificate at the Ice Cream Factory or Cherry Hill Too is entered into a drawing for a $150 gift certificate at Gear Works Cyclery in Leominster. Four certificates will be awarded in November.
Townsend's 20-year-old helmet program is funded by the Police Gifts and Donations Account, with donations from area individuals and businesses. Usually the ice cream stores do not even bill the department for the close to 300 ice cream cones served each year, Profit said.
Police also sponsor bike rodeos. Young riders learn the rules of the road and practice bicycle-handling skills.
Officer Tad Rochette ran a rodeo July 18 as part of the summer recreation program.
Another area of concern are kids on skateboards. They present a hazard on the sidewalks and roads, Profit said.
There is no safe, legal place for skateboarders to ride in town. Most private parking lots and shopping centers have posted bans on skateboards.
"Unfortunately I don't have a good suggestion. It's something that's always been a bit of a tough situation," Profit said.