It is that time of year again when anxious cyclists, motorized and otherwise, dust off their bikes, pump up their tires, oil their chains, top up the gas and hit the roads for that long awaited first ride of the year.
Most of them, understandably, can’t wait to get out there, and often don’t wait for some of those major hazards like sand, gravel and potholes to be properly removed.
Cyclists especially motor bikes can accelerate, stop and maneuver much quicker than other vehicles, though are much more vulnerable in even low speed collisions.
So as motorcyclists re-familiarize themselves with riding and avoiding the potential road hazards they face the rest of us need to remember to give them plenty of space, be alert and do our part to safely share the road with others.
May is motorcycle safety awareness month. 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in the US in 2012. That statistic, though staggering, is not so hard to believe when you consider the fact that per mile traveled, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in a traffic accident when compared to those in passenger cars.
In 2012, 2,317 fatal accidents involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle. Of these 2,317, 41 percent (953) of the other vehicles involved were turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing or overtaking other vehicles. Only in 23 cases were both the motorcycle and the other vehicle going straight.
These statistics suggest that motorists commuting in passenger vehicles need to be more careful around motorcycles, especially when making left-hand turns. The first step is awareness. If you are driving a passenger car, be sure to look carefully when changing lanes and when turning to ensure that a motorcyclist is not nearby.
If you are a motorcyclist, be sure that you are visible to other motorists. Wearing clothing or accessories that are reflective, might increase the probability of being seen by other motorists. Anything you can do to make yourself more visible will help.
Remember, motorcycles, and all other motorized vehicles permitted on the road, are by law to be treated as any other vehicle on the roadway. This includes mopeds, scooters, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and two- or three-wheeled motorcycles. These vehicles share the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle on the road.
Cyclists, while similar to motorcyclists, have a whole other list of things to watch for when cycling on the roadway. As commuting by bicycle becomes more popular through the summer months, motorists must keep a special eye out for these commuters, and be sure to do their part in keeping cyclists safe. Cyclists should do their part in keeping themselves safe by ensuring to wear their helmets, high visibility clothing, and abide by the rules of the road.
Cyclists, and motorcyclists, reduce their risk of head and brain injury in an accident by two thirds or more when wearing a helmet compared to when not wearing a helmet. Since there is no barrier between yourself and the road if you get hit, you should consider wearing protective equipment, and always wear a helmet while riding.
Accidents involving passenger cars and bicycles often occur due to the driver in the passenger car not being able to see the cyclist. Cyclists are smaller, and not easily seen, especially at certain times of the day or night. To ensure you are seen, high visibility clothing or accessories, or reflective clothing should be worn during every ride, even during the daytime. This will increase the likelihood of being seen by those driving passenger vehicles. If cycling on the roadway during the evening or twilight hours, it might be a good idea to use lights to increase your visibility. There are a variety of options to choose from, and can be purchased at many local bike or sports stores. Options for lighting range from vests with LED lights, to brake and headlights that can be attached to your bicycle.
Depending on where you are located, and what route you can take, there may be special bike lanes in your area. When possible, use these bike lanes to keep yourself protected. Remember, when a bicycle is on the roadway, by law the cyclist has the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as any other motorized vehicle on the road. This means that both the cyclist and other motorists must treat the cyclist as a vehicle.
All motorists out there on the roads need to work together to make sure everyone gets to where they are going safely. Review the rules of the road, and spread the word about motorcycle and bicycle safety.