Are you one of the tens of thousands of bicycle-riding Bostonians? Biking weather has finally arrived after a long, cold winter. It is time to take to the road on your bike and enjoy the spring and summer months, as well as the freedom and health benefits of bicycling.
You can help keep yourself and your family safe from bicycle accidents by taking specific actions. Answer these safety questions to find out how you are doing, and what you need to improve.
Dooring: Do You Ride 3 Feet from Parked Cars?
When riding your bike, do you ensure that you ride at least three feet from a parked car, even while riding in traffic? Dooring is a serious problem that can be avoided if you are alert to the potential danger and always ride a safe distance from parked cars.
Are You Aware of Vehicle Blind Spots?
Larger vehicles such as trucks, buses, and other large-profile vehicles have bigger blind spots. A driver, whether in a passenger vehicle or a large truck, van, bus or other vehicle, will be unable to see you if you are in the blind spot. Bicyclists must be aware of vehicle blind spots, and remember that if you can’t see the driver in the mirror, he or she can’t see you either.
Do You Follow the Rules of the Road?
Most bicycle riders know the rules of the road, and many follow these rules – do you? You are required to ride your bike in the direction the traffic is flowing, and are restricted from riding on sidewalks in the business districts of the city. You have the same responsibility to stop at red lights, yield to traffic, and to signal turns and stops that regular vehicle drivers have. Develop good habits and obey the law, it decrease the odds of a cycling related accident and injury.
Do you Wear a Bicycle Helmet?
Those 16 years and younger are required to wear a bicycle helmet that meets the federal safety standards. A bicycle helmet is the single most important piece of safety equipment for a bicyclist, no matter what your age. Don’t risk your life and the possibility of a serious brain injury by neglecting to wear a helmet. You cannot control the actions of the drivers around you, but you can control your own. Be a smart rider and reduce the possibility of being permanently injured by wearing a helmet, no matter when or where you ride, or your age.
Do You Yield to Pedestrians?
Just like any vehicle driver, you are required to yield to pedestrians – they have the right-of-way. If you are going to overtake a pedestrian, you must alert that person with an audible signal. It’s the law.
Does your Bicycle Have the Required Lights?
If you are riding a bicycle any time from between ½ an hour after sunset or ½ an hour prior to sunrise, you are required to have a white headlight and a red taillight. Is your bike correctly equipped?
Boston’s Bicycle Program
The City of Boston launched a bicycle program in 2007, adding 60 miles of bike lanes, with 10 to 20 miles of bikes lanes to be added every year. The Boston Cyclist Safety Report says that Boston has been transformed into a bicycle-friendly city, and has one of the country’s only “bike-share” systems. In addition, the city has added programs such as the donation of 1,700 bicycles to lower-income residents, and the implementation of a helmet campaign. The city was rated the eighth safest city for bicyclists in the nation – but there is more work to do.
Among all of the positive changes and plans for the future, the fact remains that bicyclists are still at high risk of injury or death when sharing the road with a negligent or careless. The report revealed that over a three-year period, there were a shocking 1,700 bicycle accidents in which Boston Emergency Medical Services were called to help.
You can reduce the risk of an injury or death by being a responsible bicyclist. If you have children, teach them the rules of the road. Happy cycling!
- City of Boston: Boston Cyclist Safety Report