Throughout May, National Bicycle Safety Month, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) are joining forces to remind everyone to share the road safely and courteously.
Since the “stay-at-home” directive brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people in California have taken to their bicycles for exercise and a change of scenery.
“In this uncertain time, more people are out on the streets biking for exercise, recreation, mental health, and affordable transportation,” CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said. “Bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists must stay alert to keep everyone safe.”
The events traditionally held throughout California by the CHP for Bicycle Safety Month may be somewhat curtailed in 2020. However, many CHP Area offices will continue to give helmets to children who do not have them. Their parents or guardians are urged to call their closest CHP office for information on how to obtain one. According to the National Safety Council, cyclists who wear a helmet reduce their risk of head injury by an estimated 60 percent. California law requires cyclists under 18 to wear a helmet, but it is a good idea for all who ride.
“If you are out riding a bicycle during the current pandemic, the same safety rules and habits still apply,” said OTS Directory Barbara Rooney. “To maximize safety, we encourage you to both be aware of your surroundings and practice physical distancing for the sake of you, your family, and others.”
Statistics from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System show that, during the past five years, 792 bicyclists were killed and more than 56,000 were injured in traffic crashes. The data also shows that riding on the wrong side of the roadway and right-of-way violations are the major causes of bicycle-involved crashes.
Motor vehicle drivers are reminded to give bicyclists extra room when passing – at least three feet is required by law. When turning right, drivers should look over their right shoulder to scan for bicyclists, especially when crossing into a designated bike lane. Before opening a car door, drivers should always look for passing bicyclists, especially when next to a bike lane.
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security. The OTS administers traffic safety programs with the goal of reducing deaths, injuries, and economic losses.