Heads Up, Helmet On—It is Biking Season!

As we head into summer, it is a great time to remember bicycle safety tips to keep you, and your friends, safe during the summer biking season. This spring, a bicyclist was struck by a truck in the parking lot of Allendale High School.  Luckily, there were no serious injuries.  The incident offers an opportunity to understand steps motorists and cyclists can take to avoid a crash.

Summer bike tips bike rackA couple of good tips for drivers include:

  • Watch: As low-profile vehicles, bicycles are hard to see.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorists often turn in front of cyclists, and fail to detect them in a landscape that may be occupied by trucks, pedestrians, and motorcyclists.
  • Don’t drive distracted: Recent statistics show roadway fatalities increased significantly in 2015—distracted driving could be one reason.  Keep your eyes—and your attention—on the road.  You could avoid a fatal mishap.
  • Be seen: Be sure to use turn signals and ensure your brake lights work.  Slow down and give bicyclists plenty of room on the road when you pass.

Consider these points on bicycle safety:

  • Protect your head: Your neighborhood street is no softer than the highway.  Be sure to wear a properly fitted helmet even to bike to a friend’s house.
  • Don’t ride distracted: Just like driving, distracted biking is dangerous.  Listening to music drowns out road sounds.  Checking your cell phone is no safer on a bike, than it is in a car.
  • Be seen: Wear bright clothing, use reflective gear and tape on your bike.  Most fatal biking accidents occur between 4:00 PM and midnight.  Be sure you have good lighting on your bike if headed out at twilight, or after dark.  Use hand signals.
  • Assume you are not seen: Never assume a motorist sees you.  When passing parked cars, keep enough distance to avoid a suddenly opened door.  When crossing a street, or making a turn, be sure oncoming traffic sees you—before you proceed.

AHS Director of Operations and Transportation Gary Torno adds that bicyclists should be aware that drivers of cars, trucks, and buses all have blind spots where bicyclists cannot be seen.  Mr. Torno also notes, “Helmets are very important piece of equipment in case an accident occurs it will at least provide some head protection from the hard surfaces [bicyclists] may encounter.

Across the country, and in Michigan, biking is a popular way to get where you are going.  Always be a Roll model and remember to share the road—whether you are a motorist, or a bicyclist.  Have a great, safe, summer!

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