May is National Bicycle Safety Month. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) takes the opportunity each year to remind bicyclists and motorists to share the road and remember traffic safety saves lives.
“Thousands of Californians ride their bicycles every day for exercise, leisure, and commuting,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray. “Keeping California’s roads safe is a priority and the shared responsibility of motorists and bicyclists.”
“More and more people are taking up bike riding, and it is important that drivers are aware of bicyclists and travel safely around them,” California Office of Traffic Safety Director Barbara Rooney said. “If you need to move past a bike, try to provide at least three feet of space whenever possible. Think of others on the road who are not driving as your closest friends or family.”
Motorists can help keep cyclists safe by sharing the road, looking twice for bicyclists before turning left or right onto a road, and always checking before opening a vehicle door when parked on a street to avoid opening it into a bicyclist’s path. The law requires motorists to give at least three feet clearance when passing a bicycle or to slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the bicyclist. Keep in mind the vulnerability of bicyclists in the event of a crash, which could result in serious injury or even death.
According to the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, preliminary data indicate that during the past five years, nearly 800 bicyclists were killed and more than 51,000 were injured in crashes in California. The data also show that bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the roadway and improper turning movement violations are the primary causes of fatal bicycle-involved crashes.
A bicyclist has the same rights and is required to follow the same rules of the road as motorists. Bicyclists should eliminate distractions while riding, obey all traffic signs and signals, indicate when making a turn, pull off the roadway if five or more vehicles are lined up behind them, yield to pedestrians, and never bicycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Bicyclists should remember to be aware of their surroundings and the ever-changing traffic conditions, wear appropriate reflective or bright-colored clothing, wear a helmet, and make certain their bicycle is in good condition and has the appropriate reflectors and lighting.
During the month of May, CHP officers throughout the state will be conducting bicycle safety rodeos and educational presentations to help promote safe behavior to protect both bicyclists and drivers.