Bicycle Safety for Cyclists and Motorists

Bicycle Safety

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 global pandemic, cycling has become even more popular. According to NPD Research, during the first month of the pandemic (March 2020) sales of bicycles increased by more than 100%. With this increase in the number of cyclists on the road, now is an excellent time to review cycling safety.

 In 2018, 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents, as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation

By law, bicycles on the roadway are vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. Many accidents could be avoided if the drivers of motorized vehicles and cyclists followed the rules of the road and behaved accordingly.

For Cyclists:

Always Wear a Helmet.

As previously stated, there were 857 cycling deaths in 2018 and another 500,000 accidents resulted in emergency room visits. Approximately 2/3rds of the fatalities and 1/3rd of the emergency room visits involved injuries to the head and face.

Wearing a helmet when cycling can reduce head injuries by up to 85%.

When buying a helmet,  make sure it has a Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) sticker. All helmets manufactured after 1999 must meet the CPSC standards.

How to Choose a Hemet

Children & Helmets

Always encourage your children to wear a helmet, and the earlier you start, the more habitual and easier it will become for them. And remember, set a good example for your children, always wear a helmet.

Bike Handling/Riding Skills

One of the best ways for a cyclist to avoid an accident is to ensure that they have good handling and riding skills. It can take a while to become a cyclist with good bike control. When you begin riding, practice in a safe environment such as an empty parking lot or a park where you can make mistakes…safely!

If possible, take a beginner’s cycling class, if that is not an option, there are many educational videos on YouTube, such as this one, which can help you become a better cyclist.

Ride Defensively

  • Obey the rules of the road just as every motor vehicle has to do. By obeying the rules, your behavior will be predictable to other road users creating a safer environment for you.
  • Assume that motorists do not see you because some will not.
  • Always use hand signals. Other road users cannot read your mind, so let them know what you intend to do next!
  • Make eye contact with other road users; this is an acknowledgment of your presence.
  • Anticipate that other road users will make mistakes. This anticipation could prevent an accident.
  • In daytime use:
    • a high-lumen flashing red rear light  – a flashing red light says ‘bike ahead’ to motorists
    • a high lumen white light  – the use of these lights have been proven to reduce cycling accidents by 20%
  • At nighttime, always have a front and rear light.
  • If the roads are wet, avoid the center of the road where oil may spill from vehicles, making the roadway slippy.

For Motorists

Bicycles on the roadway should be considered vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as your vehicle, please consider the following:

  • Yield to cyclists, just as you would another vehicle. 
  • Many accidents are caused by motorists underestimating the speed of cyclists, take an extra couple of seconds to understand the speed of a cyclist before you make your move.
  • Do not turn right immediately after passing a cyclist.
  • Drive defensively to avoid a crash with a cyclist. Assume that the cyclist may make a mistake.
  • Give cyclists room. In Rhode Island, the state statute § 31-15-18 Unsafe passing of a person operating a bicycle; penalty.  is known as ‘Franks Law’ and requires drivers to pass at safe distance and at a speed of less than 15mph. There is an $85 fine for the violation of this law.

By following these simple guidelines, cyclists and motorists can cohabit the roads safely.