Summer is a great time to enjoy our community on a bicycle. Bicycling is not inherently dangerous, especially when everyone follows the rules of the road. What’s dangerous are the often-illegal interactions that occur between bicyclists and motorists every day, increasing the danger for everyone. More than 90 percent of bicyclist fatalities involve a collision with a motor vehicle. According to bicycle/motor vehicle crash statistics, when an adult bicyclist is injured, it is typically due to motorist error. When a child bicyclist is hit, it’s typically the child’s. Motorist-caused collisions with bicyclists occur most often when a motorist: (1) turns left (or right) into the path of a bicyclist at an intersection; (2) fails to stop for a stop sign or other traffic control device; or (3) exits a driveway or alley without first stopping and then looking.
To safely interact with bicyclists on the roadway, motorists must follow these laws:
- Yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles, including bicycles, before turning left at intersections or driveways.
- Stop for all traffic control devices (stop light/stop signs) and yield to all traffic before proceeding.
- Leave at least three feet between you and a bicyclist (or any other vehicle) when passing.
- Do not exceed posted speed limits, and reduce speeds when necessary (especially at night).
- Do not drink and drive.
Bicyclists need to follow all the rules of the road – especially stopping for stop lights and signs. Parents can do a great deal to teach their kids to be safe bicyclists, and to help children develop habits to last a lifetime:
- Don’t allow children to ride their bicycles unless wearing a properly fitted bike helmet. (A helmet should be parallel with the ground and fit snugly.)
- Set a good example and wear a bicycle helmet too.
- Only buy a helmet that has Snell, ASTM or CPSC approved labels. Hockey, football or other sports helmets are not bike helmet substitutes.
- Teach children to be safe bicyclists:
- Look left, right and left again before entering the street.
- Go to the edge of parked cars to search for traffic when crossing the street.
- Look over your left shoulder before moving toward the center of the road.
- Be alert for cars leaving or entering driveways or making turns across your path.
- Obey the same signals and signs as motorists, e.g., stop signs, traffic signs, yield signs.
- Warn pedestrians if you are riding on sidewalks and paths.
- Be sure to use hand signals when biking.
- Make sure children are visible. Use lights and reflectors at night. Wear bright-colored clothes by day.