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National Bike Month

NATIONAL BIKE MONTH

May is National Bike Month. The dedication to two-wheeled adventure was established in 1956, and for over half a century has been sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists. During May, various events are promoted in order to encourage bicycling, and in turn, bicycling is used to promote various causes and charities. This year, May 8 has been declared National Bike to School Day, encouraging physical exercise—and fun—on the way to and from school where possible. The week of May 13-19 is National Bike to Work Week, with May 17 declared Bike to Work Day. Even if biking the entire way to work is not feasible, people can participate by biking to public transportation hubs such as metro, subway, and train stops. Organizing a group of people from your neighborhood, or from your office to bicycle with to a common hub can be a fun way to commute, and can introduce you to new friendships.

Bicycling has many benefits. As mentioned above, even when it is not the whole method of transportation to work, it can still cut down on the cost of a commute and lead to new acquaintances and/or friendships in and out of the office. The physical exercise of bicycling helps your health and helps the environment—a win/win. Bicycling around your community, to the local library or coffee shop, reduces your carbon footprint and helps you get to know your community and your neighbors on a level you just cannot accomplish in a vehicle.

BIKE SAFETY

There is no question that the issue of bicycle safety is at the center of many traffic and transportation studies, and for good reason: the number of fatalities from bicycle accidents increased almost 30% from 2010-2017. (The bicyclist fatality rate is calculated by dividing the number of cyclist deaths by the total number of cyclists; the rate increased by approximately 2% a year for the five years from 2011-2016.) According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, bicycle deaths most often occur: (1) between 6-9pm; (2) in urban areas (75% of the time); (3) with males (8 times more likely than females); and (4) when alcohol is involved (37% of all fatal crashes involve alcohol).

What accounts for the huge increase in bicycle fatalities? Some experts theorize that there are simply more bikers and vehicles trying to share the roads, not always successfully. Others point to the popularity of big vehicles—SUVs—that cause more serious injuries and fatalities in accidents. Distracted drivers with their smartphones and complicated entertainment systems, and even distracted bicyclists using their smartphones, fail to see each other; oftentimes drivers report not having seen the bicyclist they have hit until after the accident. Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that many bicyclists do not understand that their bicycles are considered “vehicles” under the law, and that they must obey the traffic laws just like vehicles do, riding single-file in the direction of traffic, following lights and signs, and giving hand signals when turning.

The NHTSA recommends that bicyclists wear properly fitting helmets, bright clothing during the day, and reflective clothing at night. Planning your bicycle route is always best, so that you are not suddenly confronted with the end of a bike lane or trying to navigate unfamiliar roads. As noted above, always ride with the flow of traffic and obey street signs, signals and road markings. Never text or use ear phones/buds while bicycling; staying focused on the road and alert to all sounds of traffic is crucial to being able to avoid hazardous situations. Avoid or minimize sidewalk riding; not only is this disruptive to pedestrians, but sudden re-emergence into traffic at unexpected points is extremely dangerous for both a bicyclist and motorists.

INFRASTRUCTURE REMEDIES

One week ago, the Democratic leaders in Congress and President Trump agreed to aim for a $2 trillion infrastructure package. Including some bike-friendly infrastructure in that package—even in a reduced spending package—would end up paying for itself in fewer accidents and fatalities, and the increased health benefits of bicycling over time. Dedicated bike lanes with connections that allow for completed bikeways around cities; protected medians; striped “bicycle boxes” at intersections to increase rider visibility; and more and better bicycle parking stations are a few key infrastructure remedies that would go a long way toward preventing bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles.

RIDE FOR READING

National Ride for Reading Week is this week, May 5-11. Ride for Reading is an example of promoting bicycling while simultaneously promoting a good cause. Volunteer cyclists bring the mission of helping children in low-income areas become healthy and literate by hosting book deliveries to Title I schools in their communities. Deliveries are where bicyclists deliver donated books to economically disadvantaged (Title I) schools. This mission facilitates a decline in the number of low-income families without books in their homes.

CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY

If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycling accident, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
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