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Driving Today

Bicycle Safety Isn’t Child’s Play Anymore

Recent data shows that the average age of a bicyclist killed in a traffic accident is 41.

While most people ride bikes recreationally, an increasing number of adults are riding their bike to work in order to improve their health, save money and reduce their overall carbon footprint. Therefore, despite conventional wisdom, children are not the primary victims of bicycle crashes. Of the 630 bicyclist deaths in 2009, 8 out of 10 were adults older than 21. This has prompted the American Automobile Association (AAA) to team up with the League of American Bicyclists to promote bicycle safety.

“As more cyclists hit the road and trail, we welcome the opportunity to work with AAA to reinforce the safety messages that both cyclists and motorists really need to take to heart,” says Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “We have a shared responsibility to share the road, and the reality is that most cyclists are also motorists at some point.”

“Education -- on both sides -- is key for all road users, of all ages,” says Rhonda Markos, a traffic safety specialist for AAA, “so the League of American Bicyclists and AAA have partnered on a campaign to encourage adult bicyclists to take five easy steps to safer riding.”

Here they are:

1. Follow the Rules of the Road. Always ride with traffic, using the rightmost lane and obeying the same laws as motorists. Use hand and arm signals to indicate your intention to stop, merge or turn.

2. Be Visible. Ride where drivers can see you -- not on the sidewalk.

Wear brightly colored clothing at all times. At night, wear reflective clothing and use a white front-light and a red rear-light/reflector.

3. Be Predicable. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars.

Make eye contact with motorists to let them know you are there.

4. Anticipate Conflicts. Always be aware of traffic around you and be prepared to take evasive action, exercising additional caution at intersections. Learn braking and turning techniques to avoid crashes.

5. Wear a Helmet. When worn properly, helmets are up to 85 percent effective in protecting the head and brain in the event of a crash. Should you crash or experience an impact that affects your helmet, replace it immediately. Wear your helmet level on your head and low on your forehead, no more than two finger-widths above your eyebrow.