May 15 is Bike to Work and School Day. As the weather warms, more people take their bicycles on the road, for commuting to work, helping the environment, exercise, recreation, and to save on automobile expenses. Generally, 7% of Americans commute by bicycle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2012 survey.
As bicycling gains in popularity, also on the rise is the likelihood of a crash with a car, truck, or other vehicle – and, so often, these crashes result in serious injury or death to the cyclist involved. According to the NHTSA, while overall passenger vehicle deaths decreased in 2012, bicyclist fatalities increased. Bicyclists injured in accidents with a vehicle also rose during this time.
In sharing the road with bicyclists, motorists can do a few simple things to make everyone’s journey safer. Below is a list of common errors that drivers sometimes make that can result in serious injury or death, and tips on avoiding them:
Drivers turn in front of a bicyclist riding on the road or sidewalk. Treat a bicycle like you would a car, and don’t underestimate bicycles’ speed.
When backing up, driving in a parking lot, turning at stop signs and at red lights, or parking on the street, drivers may not see bicyclists. Before accelerating, look around for all types of vehicles and pedestrians. Signal all your turns.
Motorists who drive too fast for the conditions put everyone around them at risk. Obeying the speed limit, driving defensively, and keeping alert are ways to prevent accidents that can too easily turn lethal.
Sometimes drivers overtake bicyclists but don’t see them until it’s too late. Speeding, inattention, or alcohol on the part of the driver, or poor visibility or alcohol use on the part of the cyclist can bring tragic results. Always do visual scans of the roadway for other traffic, especially at night, and don’t drink and drive.
Please be careful when passing bicyclists. Pass them as you would any other vehicle – when it is safe to move into an adjacent lane.
Here are some links for more information:
Bike to School and Work Day – lists where to find Celebration Stations in Bellingham
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration – information on bicycle safety and laws
Video on bicycle safety from the NHTSA
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, or are the friend or the family member of a victim, don’t hesitate to contact Bill to learn more about your options. His experience in bicycling cases can help you and your loved ones find the compensation you deserve.