With summer quickly approaching, cyclists across Pennsylvania have begun to bring their bicycles out from storage for more regular use. While many choose to ride their bike to work or for recreational purposes, preventing accidents between motor vehicles and bikes remains a critical issue.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 783 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents across the country in 2017. Due to the greater protection provided by cars, buses, trucks and other motor vehicles, bicyclists often suffer more serious injuries in such crashes. To guard against serious accidents, both drivers and bicyclists can benefit from keeping a few considerations in mind.
Safely sharing the road with cyclists
Especially coming off colder months where bikes are not as common of a presence on Harrisburg roads, drivers may overlook some key safety items. As a refresher, remember to:
- Share the road. In the absence of a bike path or lane, cyclists are permitted to ride on the road. Share the road and appropriately adjust your speed.
- Don’t tailgate. While approaching a bicycle may force you to reduce your speed, don’t tailgate and wait for an opportunity to safely pass.
- Check your blind spots. Bicyclists can approach faster than you’d expect. Check for cyclists before passing, merging or making a turn.
- Remain alert. Whether at a busy intersection or while parked on the street, yield to bicycles when appropriate and be careful when opening your car door.
- Exercise caution at night. While many cyclists ride with some sort of reflective gear, be careful at night, especially when turning or on dark roads.
Practicing these items and more can help to avoid serious injuries to yourself, bicyclists and other motorists.
Tips for cyclists
Whether you bike year-round or only during warmer weather months, consistently exercising caution can help avoid some of the risks cyclists regularly face. Being predictable on the roads is important to alert drivers on what to expect. Ride in a straight line, on a bike path or lane when available, and signal your turns.
Additionally, make yourself as visible as possible. When riding during darker hours, take care to wear brightly-colored clothing and ensure your bike has the necessary reflectors as required by Pennsylvania law.
Both drivers and cyclists can benefit from driving defensively. Obey the laws of traffic and refrain from distracted driving to keep everyone safe and avoid an accident.