My town doesn’t have bike lanes so my older children ride their bikes very close to traffic. Any advice for drivers and bikers to ensure safety?
May is Bicycle Safety Month and National Youth Traffic Safety Month – so it’s a great time and season to discuss how to “Be A Roll Model“ – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) campaign to encourage everyone to model safe behaviors to enhance the safety of all road users, including bicyclists. (And yes, “Roll” is not a typo!)
Whether you are a motorist or bicyclist, an adult or older youth, ride for transportation or recreation, we all play a part in being a “Roll Model” to decrease the risks of traffic crashes and preventable injuries and deaths, according to the NHTSA.
How do we encourage safety for all as a “Roll Model”? It’s following the common sense advice we give for all types of road and driver safety, especially when you’re driving through the cities and towns where there are more bikes and motorcycles on the road. With the nice weather here, there are more local roadway hazards. The NHTSA and Jaffarian Volvo Toyota offer the following to guidelines to promote safety for all:
- Ride and Drive Focused — Don’t’ drive distracted. Keep your eyes on the road and off your phone.
- Ride and Drive Prepared — always expect the unexpected. You never know what could be around the corner or in the middle of the street. Watch for bicyclists as you open a vehicle door once parked.
- Put Safety First — we never know when a crash will occur, regardless of skill level or age; wear your seat belt.
- Follow the Rules of the Road — a bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights on the roadway and responsibilities of motorized traffic. Many drivers forget that bicyclists and motorists have equal rights.
- Expect and encourage law enforcement officers to monitor and address unsafe behaviors between motorists and bicyclists that put bicyclists at risk.
- Share the Road — both vehicle drivers (motorist and bicyclist) should look out for one another and show mutual respect.
- Always Wear A Helmet — even if you’re just in your own neighborhood. Some bike crashes can cause serious injuries and most are related to the behavior of the bicyclist or the motorist. There are a number of things you can do to prevent a crash, and protect your brain if a crash occurs by wearing a helmet.
- Monitor your Children — be certain your children wear helmets, stay close to the curb, are age-appropriate for roads they are riding on and have both hands on the handle bars. Teach them the importance of not taking risks by letting go of handlebars, putting someone on the back of the bike and not showing off!
- Adjust Your Bike to Fit. Stand over your bike. There should be 1 to 2 inches between the rider and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if using a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back, and the 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.
- Check Your Equipment. Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that the brakes work.
- See and Be Seen. Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, make yourself visible. Wear neon, fluorescent or other bright colors when riding, to be more visible to others. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Just because you can see a driver, it doesn’t mean the driver can see you.
- Control Your Bike. Ride with two hands on the handlebars unless signaling a turn. Place books and other items in a bike carrier or backpack.
- Share the Road. Avoid driving multiple bikers across on the road. Just as the motorists are expected to share the road, the same applies to the bicyclists. If biking in a large group, show respect to the motorists to allow them to pass for your group’s safety and the safety of the vehicles going in each direction.
- Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards. Look for hazards that may make you crash, such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs and avoid abrupt swerves whenever possible.
- Use Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication. This includes eye contact with drivers, turn signals, pointing to road hazards for bicyclists behind you, and stating “passing on your left,” or “on your left.”
- Avoid Riding at Night. It’s harder for other road users to see bicyclists at dusk, dawn or nighttime. Use reflectors on the front and rear of the bike. White lights and red rear reflectors or lights are required by law in all states, but avoid biking at night for your own safety.
As a 4th generation family business, we at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota, care about the health and well-being of you and your family whether you are on foot, bike or in a vehicle. Please be a safe driver and biker by staying aware and keeping your eyes on the road—not on your phone. Remember to share the road as we all seek to spend more time outdoors in beautiful New England.