By KEN ELMORE
“Now be nice and share.”
Oh, how I despised hearing those words. Generally, it meant that I was about to relinquish something I didn’t want to.
Well, with summer officially here and health concerns beginning to relax, the roadways are busy everywhere once again. Emergency services would like to remind everyone in the name of safety that sharing the roads with bicycles is of paramount importance this time of year.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
For starters, a few pointers for us folks in our cars and trucks. According to the big guys, the US Department of Transportation, by law, bicycles on the roadway are deemed vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. Yes, that thing bumping, down the shoulder of the road while vehicles race by has the right to be there, no matter what you think.
When you understand that, please use the same road rules and safety concerns as if the bike were another car when it comes to issues such as passing, turning corners, right of way and the like. Drive defensively for the protection of all, as many bicyclists may not be aware of their responsibilities on the road. Give them a clear benefit of the doubt as they attempt to negotiate road conditions such as potholes, glass, puddles, ruts, roadkill.
You know, Michigan stuff.
As for the bikes? Well, we might sound a little harsher here with our advice, but it’s only due to the fact that we all know who’s going to win when car meets bike. Regardless of the technical right or wrong, we want you to be able to enjoy bike riding not only safely, but for years to come.
You’re also required to comply with all laws. Simply because you’re smaller and don’t have a motor, doesn’t mean the bonehead going 80, cares. Your safety is primarily in your hands, so follow a few guidelines with that in mind.
Safety on the road with your bike begins at home. Like any piece of equipment, make sure that your bicycle is mechanically in good shape and all parts are in proper working order. People and bicycles come in all sorts of sizes; therefore, it is very important that each one is sized properly for the other. A properly functioning bike and the right size bike will help avoid injuries due to falls, the most predominant bike accident on the roads.
Now that your equipment is ready, make sure you are too. Helmets are vital, and anyone riding should have one, again, the size and fit correct for each individual. Wear something of a bright or contrasting color, making it easier for others to see you.
Avoid improper or loose-fitting clothing that may get caught in the bike chain. You may also want to consider the time of day and the route you take. Did you know most bike fatalities happen between 6-9 p.m? Maybe that route down the less traveled road and a different time of day might be best. Possibly the best safety advice we can give is for all of us, motorized or pedal power, be sure to exercise a little more road courtesy. Regardless of who’s in the right, paying a little closer attention, using little more patience between various types of transportation, a little more give and take on the roadways, and we can all enjoy the wonderful summer season going down the road.
For more info visit nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicycle-safety.
– Elmore is a Markey Township firefighter