Learn to share the road, for everyone’s safety

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), about 2 percent of deaths in motor vehicle crashes each year are bicyclists.

The American Automobile Association urges bicyclists and motorists to properly share the roadways, including bicyclists riding in the same direction as traffic and wearing properly fitted helmets. (Christine Holtzman)

Although child bicyclist deaths have declined over the years, deaths among bicyclists age 20 and older have tripled since 1975.

Florida leads the nation in bicycle fatalities. Of the 783 pedalcyclists killed in 2017 in the United States, 125 (16 percent) were in Florida, as shown by the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

A recent AAA survey of Florida cyclists reveals that 36 percent do not wear a helmet; 56 percent ride with traffic, 21 percent ride against traffic; and 74 percent of those who ride against traffic do so because they prefer to see approaching vehicles.

As Ride to Work Day nears on June 17, the NHTSA and AAA offer these safety tips to those on the road:

Bicyclist safety tips

  • Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, instead of on sidewalks.
  • Follow the same road rules as other roadway users do, including riding in the same direction as traffic, and obeying all the same traffic signs and signals.
  • Signal all turns.
  • Wear a properly fitted helmet every time, on every ride.
  • Be visible by wearing bright colors during the day, reflective gear in low-light conditions, and use head and tail lights at night.
  • Show motorists the same courtesy you expect from them. Respect is a two-way street.

Safety tips for motorists

  • Stay alert and avoid distractions while driving.
  • Yield to bicyclists while turning.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots for bicyclists.
  • Slow down and give at least 3 feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist.
  • Give bicyclists extra passing room in bad weather.
  • Do not honk the horn at a bicyclist, as it could cause them to swerve into traffic or off the roadway.
  • Check for bicyclists before opening your car door.
  • Expect the unexpected from children on bicycles.

Published June 12, 2019

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