May is Bicycle Safety Month!
In many parts of the United States, balmier weather has finally arrived. After those long grey winter months, people are now dusting off their bicycles, inflating the tires and grabbing their helmets. Families will venture out to ride in parks and public areas. Office workers will mount their favorite bicycle to get to work without the hassle of being stuck in traffic.
Commuting to work on a bicycle has become ever more popular in many cities and towns. In some areas, the increase has been as much as 408 percent! That’s excellent news for the environment—and it keeps people healthy.
However, sharing the road with vehicles is a concern for all bicyclists. Family heads are especially interested in ensuring their children's safety. While many minor injuries, such as scraped knees, are simply part of learning to ride, most fatal bicycle collisions involve vehicles. In 2016, 840 bicyclists died in crashes with vehicles.
Bicyclists have the main responsibility for their own safety and should wear helmets, make wise choices on the road and avoid using alcohol before riding. Nonetheless, vehicle drivers can also contribute to bicycle safety and help reduce injuries and deaths.
7 ways drivers can help bicyclists stay safe
1. Leave room between your vehicle and bicyclists on the road. If you need to pass them on the road, give them enough space in case they make any unexpected movement. If possible, change into another lane when passing a cyclist.
2. Before making a left or right turn, check not only for other vehicles but also for bicycles.
3. If you drive on a road that has designated bicycle lanes, respect them. Don’t park in them or use them to pass another vehicle.
4. When maneuvering around parking lots—pulling out of a parking space or turning corners—be aware of cyclists.
5. Always yield to bicyclists, even if you have the right of way. Remember that you are more protected in a vehicle than they are on a bike.
6. Keep in mind that at night it can be hard to spot cyclists. In fact, most bicyclist deaths happen between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
7. Stay within the posted speed limit. Lower speeds give you more time to react in case a cyclist does something unexpected.