Bikes and Cars Can Coexist
I recently read some interesting and troubling statistics on cycling. Did you know that 75% of cycling related fatalities were due to the fact that the cyclist had no helmet? That being said, many cyclists who wear a helmet, and many who are experienced cyclists, have been involved in accidents in Colorado. Despite the growing popularity of biking and the laws that have been changed to protect bikers, a troubling number of Colorado bike accidents are still occurring.
An Olympic cyclist riding in Boulder, Dale Stetina, was injured in a near-miss with a vehicle. Even though the vehicle didn’t hit him, Stetina was injured trying to avoid the accident, and suffered a brain injury even though he was wearing a helmet.
It is important to remember that a bicycle is no match for a vehicle under any circumstances. Cyclists are just as guilty of taking risks while riding as drivers are ignoring safety guidelines for sharing the road. Here are some tips for riders and drivers alike:
Be predictable! The best way to avoid a problem is to make your intentions known. For cyclists, you should use the correct hand signals to let motorists know if you are turning. Never turn from the wrong lane! Even if you are riding in a bicycle lane, you should move to the correct lane if staying in the bicycle lane would mean turning in front of other traffic. Drivers should be using turn signals always, but particularly when cyclists or pedestrians are present.
- If you are in a busy area, slow down! Cyclists often are so consumed by their own training, they fail to slow down in areas where there is a high volume of pedestrians or cars. Cars should slow down when passing cyclists on the road. The law in Colorado says that motorists should give a cyclist 3 feet to pass.
In Colorado, bicyclists and motorists have the same rights and responsibilities when using public roads. Be courteous, share the road and obey all traffic laws, signs and signals. Ride on the shoulder (if one exists) or on the right side of the road, unless you feel that the shoulder or the right side of the road is unsafe, you are preparing to make a left turn, you are overtaking a slower-moving vehicle, or you are riding on a one-way road and would prefer to ride on the left side. Finally, signal turns for 100 feet in advance, unless you need both hands to brake or control your bicycle. You may use either arm to signal a right turn. (Either point to the right or raise your left arm in an “L” shape).
Cycling is a very popular activity in Colorado. It is also available to those with little or no experience with bicycle etiquette or the rules of the road. Do your part to be a respectful rider or motorist, and help spread the word about the laws and etiquette around cycling and the importance of sharing the road.
Be safe out there!