Summer is here, and more people are spending time outdoors. Children will be playing outside, and on the roadways you’ll see an increase in pedestrians and bicyclists. In fact, bicycling is rapidly growing in popularity. From 2006 to 2014, the number of people commuting to work on two wheels doubled, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
But as bicycling grows, so, too, does the number car versus bicycle accidents. Over 1,000 bike riders died in fatal accidents in 2015, and there were nearly 467,000 injuries. Children and adolescents are most likely to face bicycle-related injuries, and fatal accidents happen most often in urban environments. But by keeping an eye out for bicyclist and being mindful of a few safety tips, you can make sure everyone gets home safely.
Give bicycles room
When cars collide with bicycles, the bike always loses. Realize that bicyclists are vulnerable and give them plenty of room to operate. Never drive in a bike lane unless you’re making a right turn at the end of the block, and always give bikes at least three feet of space while passing.
Be careful after parking
If you’re parked on the street, be aware of your surroundings. Opening your car door in the path of a passing bicycle could lead to a serious injury. Check your side mirror and look over your shoulder before getting out of your car. This is especially important when you’re parked next to a bike lane.
Treat bikes like cars
Bicycles on the roads in most jurisdictions have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles, so treat them as such. Avoid cutting off bicyclists in traffic and be especially watchful of them when making turns – don’t turn into their path on a right turn and don’t try to outrun an oncoming bicycle when turning left.
Distracted driving is never safe, but it can be especially deadly in the summer when there are more bicyclists and pedestrians on the roads. Do not place calls or text messages, eat, groom or do any other activity that takes your eyes or your mind off the road.
Summer offers many opportunities to enjoy drinks with friends – beers at a ball game, wine at a rooftop bar, cocktails at a barbecue – but when you mix that with driving, people get hurt. Alcohol is a factor in about 37 percent of bicycle accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If you’re going to drink, don’t get behind the wheel.