May is National Bike Month and Friday, May 18th is National Bike To Work Day.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, 40 percent of all trips in the U.S. are less than two miles, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 percent.
A bicycle on the road is considered a vehicle – with the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle. Before biking to work, read these safety tips from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- Inspect Your bike. Ensure everything is secure and working properly. Inflate tires and check that your brakes work.
- Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet. Protect your brain, save your life. Go to NHTSA ‘Fitting A Bike Helmet’ for more information.
- Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit. Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) for a road bike and 3 to 4 inches for a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.
- See and Be Seen. No matter the time of day, your goal is to be seen. Instead of white, wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors. Also wear reflective tape or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.
- Control Your Bicycle. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.
- Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards. Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, uneven pavement, and dogs – all of which can cause a crash.
- Avoid Riding at Night. It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because you are harder for others to see. If you must ride at night, wear something that makes you easily seen by others. Your bike should have reflectors on the front and rear, as well as the tires.
Many bicycle-related crashes resulting in injury or death are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior, including not wearing a bicycle helmet, riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind, running stop signs, and riding the wrong way in traffic.
As mentioned above, in many states bicycles are considered vehicles with a responsibility to follow the rules of the road. When riding, always:
- Go With the Traffic Flow. Ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles. Go with the flow – not against it.
- Obey All Traffic Laws. A bicycle is a vehicle and you’re a driver. When you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
- Yield to Traffic When Appropriate. Almost always, drivers on a smaller road must yield (wait) for traffic on a major or larger road. If there is no stop sign or traffic signal and you are coming from a smaller roadway (driveway, sidewalk, bike path), you must slow down and look to see if the way is clear before proceeding. This also means yielding to pedestrians who have already entered a crosswalk.
- Be Predictable. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars. Signal your moves to others.
- Stay Alert at All Times. Use your eyes AND ears. Watch out for potholes, cracks, wet leaves, storm grates, railroad tracks, or anything that could make you lose control of your bike. You need your ears to hear traffic and avoid dangerous situations; don’t wear a headset when riding.
- Look Before Turning. When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making the turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.
- Watch for Parked Cars. Ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (doors opening or cars pulling out).
For more information on bicycle safety and National Bike To Work Day, go to:
Casey & Devoti is a St. Louis-based personal injury law firm. Together Partners Matt Casey and Matt Devoti have nearly 40 years of trial experience. They handle a variety of personal injury matters, including: car, truck and train accidents, victims of impaired and distracted driving, medical malpractice and birth injuries, product liability, slips/trips/falls, elder care and sexual abuse, Workers’ Compensation, and wrongful death. Matt and Matt proudly serve clients throughout metropolitan St. Louis, southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois. If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another, call the office today for a free, no-obligation consultation: (314) 421-0763.