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10-Year-Old Saves Cyclist, Brings Awareness To Need for Safe Cycling

| June 22, 2012 | 5 Comments

June 22, 2012 — Last week, a 10-year-old girl was struck by a car after running into the street to pull a young boy riding a bike to safety. While the boy was safely directed on to the sidewalk, a 1927 Model T hit the girl before she could join him. The girl, whose identity was not released, is expected to survive and police are now hailing her a hero. Luck was on her side, but this story could have been a tragedy of another kind. According to the US Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Report of 2009, children between the ages of 5 and 15 make up 13% of all fatal pedal-cyclist accidents.

The past ten years have seen a drastic decrease in cyclist fatalities. The Federal Highway Administration reports that they have decreased 21 percent since 1988. This is possibly attributable to the increase in number of cyclists on the road, and the growing awareness and “share the road” laws that accompany mainstream cycling. “What you see is that as the number of bicycles goes up, the number of crashes goes down,” said Andy Clark,  president of the League of American Bicyclists. “There seems to be a safety in numbers effect.” In fact, areas with a higher concentration of cyclists see a smaller percentage of bicycle accidents. This is due in part to cyclists aware of the rules of the road and in part to drivers used to seeing bike riders in traffic.

 Wear Your Helmet: Bike Safety Sign

Many groups are pushing for mandatory helmet laws to increase safety (via BicycleSigns.com).

To facilitate safer and smarter roads, most states pass extensive road laws pertaining to bicycles. In fact, all states stipulate that bicyclists should ride with traffic on the right side of the road unless turning or passing. In general, cyclists are required to obey all signs and signals, and give pedestrians the right-of-way. In addition, many states enforce reflectors, headlights, or bells to increase visibility of the cyclist and keep other vehicles aware of bikes on the road. In the past 15 years, mandatory helmet laws have also become common for children in many states. Currently, no state requires all riders to don a helmet, but many safety initiatives have pushed for new legislation.

Some states, in addition to common traffic laws, further restrict cyclists. For example, in Wisconsin, cyclists cannot remove both hands from their bicycles or travel with more than one person on a bike unless there is an extra seat. In Georgia no bicycle may be equipped, modified, or altered in such a way as to cause the pedal in its lowermost position to be more than 12 inches above the ground.  In Idaho, it is illegal to ride bikes on tennis courts.


Share the Road Bike and Car Image

Better cycling and driving practices make for a safer shared road (via BicycleSigns.com).

San Diego has implemented new initiatives for cyclist safety as well. While the city has always had a share the road law in place, new signs advising motorists that bikes may use the full lane have recently created a controversy in the city. Cyclists claim that drivers are unwilling to share the road while motorist find bicycles to be a dangerous nuisance. Officials hope the signs will encourage both parties to be more mindful of other vehicles on the road.

While these laws vary in importance and effectiveness, the ones deemed most important — that is, shared by all states — require cyclists to abide by the rules of the road. While groups continue to push for mandatory helmet laws, it is important to continually take the utmost precautions with road safety.

– K. Howitt

 

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