What to Include in a List of Bicycle Lane Safety Tips
Bicycle lane safety is becoming more and more important to public safety officials. This is due to the tens of thousands of Americans every year who are adopting a bike as a secondary or even primary means of transportation. Unfortunately, a lack of riding experience and the inattention of motorists cause thousands of bicycle-related accidents every year. The following statistics tell a grim story:
49,000 people were injured in 2012 while riding a bicycle.
726 cyclists were killed during the same period.
The number of wrecks is increasing at an annual rate of more than 5% a year.
This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
One of the best ways to help prevent cycle accidents is through public education. With that in mind, here is a list of tips that should be on every community’s bicycle lane safety sheet:
Cyclists are subject to the same rules of the road as drivers of motor vehicles; if it applies to motorists, then it applies to bike riders as well.
Cyclists should ride with the direction of traffic, not against it.
Cyclists should always follow lane markings. They should never turn right from the left lane or vice-versa. This is one of the most important tips for bicycle lane safety.
Cyclists should never pass on the right. This reduces their visibility to drivers.
Cyclists should keep an eye on the road behind them as well as in front of them. Bike manufacturers make after-market mirrors that enable riders to do so without turning their heads.
Cyclists should always brake using both hands. Single-handed braking is extremely hazardous.
Cyclists should allow for extra braking time and distance when it’s raining.
Cyclists should always wear a helmet; this is key to bicycle lane safety.
Cyclists should always be able to see and hear what’s going on around them; they should never wear headphones while riding.
Cyclists should wear a poncho or rain jacket during wet weather. During winter, they should dress in layers and be ready for unexpected temperature changes.
Cyclists should always use hand signals when turning.
Cyclists should stay in the middle of the lane at crowded intersections and whenever they are traveling at the same speed as the vehicles around them.
Cyclists should wear reflective clothing at night and during periods of inclement weather. This is an important principle of bicycle lane safety.
Cyclists have two options when turning left: they can either use the turning lane like motor vehicles do or they can stop on the right side of the road to walk their bike across the street. They should always choose the safer of those two options in a given situation.
Cyclists should be alert for road hazards like grates, ice, snow, puddles, sand, debris, or anything else that may affect their traction or balance.
Cyclists should use lamps at night, preferably a model that flashes.
Cyclists should always keep their bikes in good repair, paying special attention to keeping their tires and brakes in optimum condition.
Spreading the Word about Bicycle Lane Safety
No list of bicycle safety tips will improve outcomes if it is not made available to the public. Here are some possible methods of distribution to help make sure this information gets in the right hands:
Signs on public busses and at bus stops.
Flyers distributed at local bike shops and at biking events.
Ads on local TV and radio stations.
Web sites devoted to the topic of bicycle lane safety.
Public meetings led by county or city officials.
The growing popularity of cycling offers tremendous benefits for both public health and the environment. Along with this trend, however, there will always be some mishaps and, sadly, a few tragedies. But by spreading the word about bicycle lane safety, these accidents can be minimized, enabling millions of Americans to enjoy the benefits of riding safely.