from the Office of Leon County Sheriff Mike Wood
The summer months are quickly approaching. During this time, it’s normal to see more and more people, young and old, enjoying a bicycle ride. Bicycling can be fun and good exercise for any person wanting to enjoy the sunny skies and great weather. All too often, however, this fun-inthe-sun event can turn into tragedy when a cyclist gets hit by an automobile.
The cyclist is already at a major disadvantage. A motorist is surrounded by metal that encases their body, while a bicyclist really has no protection from the dangers of being out on a street. Even though most accidents involving cyclists and automobiles are due to lack of awareness by the motorist, cyclists are still responsible for making sure they obey the traffic laws of the road just like pedestrians and other drivers.
Bicyclists accounted for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities and 2 percent of all crash-related injuries in 2012. Most bicyclist fatalities occurred between 4 p.m. and midnight (48 percent) and in urban areas (69 percent). Almost 9 out of 10 (88 percent) of those killed while riding bicycles were male (US Department of Transportation/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
Here are some simple tips to help guide bicycle enthusiasts during this time of outdoor fun and exercise:
- Wear protective gear. A helmet is a must. Wearing gloves and the correct clothing can help avoid falls and limit problems during your ride.
- Use proper hand gestures when making turns to let drivers and other types of street traffic know what your intentions are.
- Go with the ﬂow of traffic. Going in the opposite direction is against the law and can lead to a citation and can cause a traffic hazard.
- Don’t try and use electronic devices while riding. If you must, stop to use your phone, GPS or other application.
- Know your route. Whether on the street or off road, know where there could be dangers along your trail, such as storm grates, potholes, roots or other obstacles.
- Make sure your bicycle is visible. Having good identifiable reflectors and proper lights can help vehicles avoid you in your lane.
- Above all, always ride sober. Drinking can have an effect on a bicyclist just as much as a driver of a car. Your judgment can be off and balance can also be affected to the point of falls and wrecks.
- When cycling, make sure your bike is in good working order and all your necessary equipment is in good shape.
Make sure to have a safe summer while enjoying the great outdoors. By using these simple tips everyone can safely use the road together.