Child safety seat mounted on a rear rack.

Every month should be National Bike Month.

Our stormy month of May forced many of us to leave the bicycles home too often during National Bike Month.  So I am suggesting we agree to make the month of June our unofficial National Bike Month.  Heck, with gas prices at an outrageous $4 per gallon, we might want to consider making EVERY month National Bike Month!

Summer is finally heating up and the storms have subsided (for now), AAA and the League of American Bicyclists are encouraging bicyclists and motorists to make safety a top priority.

While most adults ride bikes recreationally, an increasing number are riding their bike to work, to improve their health, save money and reduce their overall carbon footprint, according to AAA.

“Education – on both sides — is the key for all road users of all ages,” said AAA Traffic Safety Specialist Rhonda Markos. “Despite conventional wisdom, children are not the primary victims of bicycle crashes.”

Of the 630 bicyclist deaths in 2009, eight out of 10 were adults over 21, AAA said.

I was very surprised to see these statistics! I think most people assume that it is children who are killed but with more and more adults riding for fitness and commuting, more and more adults are exposed to the dangers presented by cars.

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:

Tips for adult bicyclists

  1. Follow the Rules of the Road: Always ride with traffic, staying to the right except when it is unsafe to do so, 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. Do not ride on the sidewalk. Wear brightly colored clothing at all times. At night, use a white front light and red rear light or reflector, and wear reflective clothing.
  3. Be Predictable: 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: Helmets, when worn properly, are up to 85 percent effective in protecting the head and brain in the event of a crash. Should you crash, or have an impact that affects your helmet, replace it immediately. Fit matters: Wear your helmet level on your head, low on your forehead, with no more than two finger widths above your eyebrow.

Motorists, too, can make an effort to reduce bicyclist injuries and fatalities. AAA encourages motorists to take the following precautions when sharing the road with bicyclists:

Tips for motorists

  • Stay alert, avoiding all distractions while driving.  This means no phones and definitely no texting while driving!
  • Yield to bicyclists when turning.
  • In bad weather, give bicyclists extra passing room.  NY law requires you to only pass bicycles when you can do so safely so don’t insist on passing a bike unless you have plenty of room to do so.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots for bicyclists before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
  • Slow down and give at least 3 feet of clearance when passing.
  • Reduce your speed when passing bicyclists, especially when the road is narrow.
  • NEVER honk your horn at a bicyclist just to let them know you are there; it could cause them to swerve into traffic or off the roadway and crash. Save your horn for emergencies.
  • Always check for bicyclists before opening your car door.

Let’s make EVERY month National Bike Month!

Thanks, Jim


James B. Reed
NY & PA Bicycle Accident Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)