It has arrived, ladies and gentlemen. And no, I don’t mean the ACL lineup. That’s right, May is National Bike Month. Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, Bike Month is celebrated every year to recognize the activity and its benefits across the board, from being active for a healthy lifestyle to reducing that pesky carbon footprint.
BIKE TO WORK
Part of the celebratory month was National Bike to Work Week, which invited folks from sea to shining sea to ditch their autos and pedal to the metal May 11th through 15th. The cycling trend, however, isn’t restricted to the month of May. According to the Bike League, more people are biking each year, especially in cities like Portland (with a growth rate of a whopping 443 percent), San Francisco, and The Zebra‘s hometown of Austin.
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center explains that annually, 49,000 folks are injured in biking accidents while about 730 people lose their lives, which works out to about two people each day. So, to keep everyone on the roads healthy and happy to celebrate National Bike Month in all of its spoked glory, let’s learn some easy ways bikers and drivers can share the road.
When it comes to respecting folks on the road, its no secret that there are most definitely improvements to be made by cyclists and drivers alike. However, as car drivers are clearly going to be the “winner” in any collision situation, naturally there should be an additional responsibility that lies with the driver. So, what are some ways we can be more aware of our fellow commuters?
SHARING THE ROAD
- Be sure you take some time to stop and look for cyclists—just like you do for pedestrians. When you’re getting ready for a right turn, keep in mind that cyclists have the right of way.
- Leave plenty of room as you’re passing cyclists. Even “brushing” our bike friends can land you with some serious monetary penalties, marks on your record, auto insurance cancellation and even time in the clink.
- When passing, also keep in mind that bikers will often ride a good distance away from parked cars on the side of the road to keep from getting “doored” (slammed by a car door opening). It has been proven that cycling accidents are more likely to be fatal when cars reach 30 mph, so slow down to 15 or 20 mph when passing.
- You may have noticed our pedaling friends rolling right past stop signs. This is not allowed, however they often will do so because their shoes are clipped into their pedals. So be aware of this as you reach stop signs and look in all directions as you continue forward.
- Steer clear of bike lanes when possible, and always avoid parking in them. These lanes are designated for safety, and when they’re blocked, bikers are forced to pedal into driving traffic that can be extremely dangerous when they’re expecting cyclists to be restricted to the bike lane.
- Make sure you read up on your state’s driving laws regarding cyclists. Some states have a distance requirement (for example, three feet at all times in Maryland—and fifteen other states).
- We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: no texting and driving. Cyclists are even less visible than the autos people still run into with phone in hand, so keep your eyes on the road and your phone in your pocket when you’re behind the wheel.
The truth is, it’s not exactly easy to share the road when cars and bikes are so different, physics-wise. But as with road rage, it’s critical to not get caught up in the I’m-behind-something-big-and-scary-so-I-will-turn-big-and-scary mentality. Always remember that the bike in front of you is not just a bike, or even just a cyclist—it’s a fellow human being.
With all of these handy tips and tricks, we hope navigating the road with cyclists will be a safer and less frustrating experience. Did you bike to work in celebration of National Bike Week?