Bicycle Safety—A Two-Way Street for Drivers and Cyclists

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: June 5, 2012

Did you know that one-quarter of all trips or errands people take in the United States are no more than a mile from start to finish? In fact, half of all trips we take are within three miles from home, which makes bicycling perfect for transportation.

In addition to encouraging a habit of regular physical activity, bicycling can play a role in improving your mental health and mood, strengthening your bones and muscles, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, bicycling can increase your chances of  living a longer, healthier life.

Before you jump on your bicycle, however, take a few minutes to brush up on the rules of the road—whether a motorist or cyclist:

For Motorist:

  • Remember the 4-feet rule. Pennsylvania states that drivers must give cyclists at least four feet of clearance when passing. This includes your side mirrors, which many may forget about when driving larger vehicles.
  • Yield to cyclists. Keep in mind that you are protected, and they are not. Use your turn signals early and always, and watch for cyclists’ hand signals. It’s important to remember that no turn by a driver can interfere with a cyclist continuing straight on a roadway or shoulder.
  • Don’t speed up to pass or blow your horn. Both can unnerve or distract a cyclist. Pass them slowly and smoothly. And always remember to exercise patience.
  • Drive cautiously. Lastly, remind yourself of the differences between your vehicle and a bicycle. It’s an obvious mismatch. Respect the cyclist’s vulnerabilities, and be diligent about watching out for young riders.

For Cyclist:

  • Obey the rules of the road. Cyclists are expected to obey all traffic laws, which include riding in the same direction as traffic, as well as stopping at stop signs and traffic lights. For cyclists who use sidewalks, pedestrian rules apply.
  • Use proper hand signals. Always alert motorists as to your directional intentions with obvious hand signals. Don’t count on drivers using turn signals. Remember that seven-out-of-ten accidents occur at intersections or driveways.
  • Wear a helmet. It should fit squarely on top of your head, covering your forehead and with the chin strap snug enough to keep your helmet from moving side to side. Consult the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission standards for more details.
  • Make yourself more visible. Wear bright colors or reflective gear, even during daytime hours, to enhance the likelihood of being seen.
  • Choose routes wisely. Map routes on wider, less traveled roads or those with dedicated bicycle lanes. In addition, make as few left turns as possible.

NOTE: Always check with your doctor before engaging in any new physical activity.

For more information on bicycle safety, please contact us.

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