As the weather warms up in Pennsylvania, more people will be riding bicycles for recreation, exercise or for commuting. Bicycle safety is a big issue in the spring and summer, which is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declared May to be National Bike Safety Month.
Both bicyclists and drivers are encouraged to make the time this May to review safety tips in order to reduce the risk of collisions.
Bicyclists should heed the following safety precautions:
- Inspect your bicycle before riding
- Always wear a helmet
- Respect and follow all the rules of the road
- Use hand and arm signals, and make eye contact with drivers before making a turn
- Wear clothing designed to encourage visibility and put reflectors on your bicycle so that drivers will be able to see you better
Drivers should pay attention to the following safety tips:
- Stay out of bicycle lanes and respect the rights of bicyclists on the road
- Leave at least four feet between your car and a bike
- Check carefully for bicycle riders before trying to pass or turn
- Yield the right-of-way when it is a bicycle rider’s turn to go
- Avoid operating your vehicle while distracted or impaired
These tips should be followed not just during bike safety month but throughout the year. A 2012 survey of national attitudes on bicycle riding showed that many people ride regularly during the summers and that some have had bad experiences because of drivers.
Around 22 percent of more than 7,000 people surveyed by the NTHSA said that they rode their bicycles regularly. Of the people who ride, 51 percent said that they are on their bikes at least one time each week during the summer. Among these riders, 12 percent admitted to fearing for their personal safety because of motor vehicles. Most of the bikers who expressed fear said that they had been worried about drivers who were going too fast or because of drivers who got too close to them. A total of 83 percent of bicycle riders who worried about their safety attributed their fears to drivers of passenger cars and trucks.
Both bicycle riders and drivers have a duty to be aware of bicycle safety, especially when cyclists start making an appearance in higher numbers during the first warm days of the year. Bicyclists and motorists can share the road safely by maintaining mutual respect for each other and following the rules of the road.