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. 

Safety Tips for Bicyclists

1- Wear a helmet, whether it’s the law in your area or not. In Maryland, you must wear a helmet while riding a bicycle if you’re under the age of 16. In Delaware, you must wear a helmet if you’re under the age of 18. Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury in a crash by more than 50% and may prevent head injury-related deaths by as much as 60%. And just as importantly, make sure the helmet is properly fitted so it can protect you and your loved ones. 

2- Wear gear that makes you more visible while riding, especially in the evening, at night, or on overcast days. Whether it’s reflective clothing or vests or fluorescent clothing, brighter clothing makes you more eye-catching to motorists. 

3- Equip your bicycle with lights to ensure you’re seen, especially if you ride during times when you may be more difficult to see such as poor weather, or early or late in the day. A headlight in the front is recommended, and a rear light if you’ll be biking at night. 

4- Know the laws for your state. Often states have different laws for cyclists, so make sure you research bike safety for the state you’re riding in, especially if you’re riding in an unfamiliar state. 

5- Remember that you are still subject to the same laws as drivers. You must obey traffic signs and lights. Do not ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

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.