As the weather warms, many people pull out their bicycles to enjoy the season. It’s a great way to take care of your health and see the sights at the same time. Unfortunately, while bicycles make up only 1% of trips in the United States according to the CDC, bicyclists account for 2% of fatalities involving a motor vehicle.
Nearly 1,000 bicyclists are killed and over 130,000 are injured on the roads each year. And though most ER trips are made by children and young adults, the highest rate of death of bicyclists is actually adults between 5-69 years of age. While 27% of bicyclist deaths occur at intersections, about 64% occur on stretches of road with no intersections where higher speeds may occur.
There are things bicyclists can do that will help them be safer, however. If you’re riding in an area without designated bike lanes, ride on the right side of the road. The rule of thumb is the right side is the right side to ride. You should be riding with traffic, not against it. If you’re approaching a lefthand turn, signal as early as possible, carefully move to the left side of your lane when it’s safe to do so and double-check before turning.
There are also safety measures drivers must take when sharing the roads with cyclists. You must give bicyclists a minimum of three feet of clearance when driving alongside them or passing them. When you’re turning beside a bicyclist in the bike lane, allow them to complete their turn first before turning behind them. And if you’re sharing the road with them in the early morning, evening, night, or any time with low visibility, avoid using your high beams. Pass bicyclists as you would a motor vehicle- wait until it is safe to do so and allow plenty of room for you and the cyclist. Before completing a right turn, check behind you and to your right to ensure you don’t have a cyclist in the vicinity.
Whether you’re a bicyclist or a motorist, if we all work together we can help keep each other safe. Be aware of your surroundings, and stay safe while enjoying this lovely weather.