Bicyclists, motorists need to share the road to be safe

BikeInfographicWeb.jpgBicyclists and motorists need to follow the rules of the road and be aware of each other to ensure everyone stays safe. 

With June national Bicycle Safety Month, Wyoming Department of Transportation officials want to remind all motorists, including bicyclists, to be aware of each other and share the road.

“This month gives us the opportunity to bring awareness to the fact that more bicyclists will be out riding,” said Mariah Johnson, WYDOT bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. “We want to make sure everyone understands the rules of the road so everyone is safe.”

Wyoming averages about 73 bicycle injury crashes a year when looking at data from 2015 through 2017, information from WYDOT’s Highway Safety program indicated. Over that three-year period, Wyoming had one fatal crash.

Nationally, 840 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2016, information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website indicated.

When riding, bicyclists must obey all traffic signals and stop for stop signs. They also must ride with traffic and not against it. 

“Bicycles are held to the same standards that vehicles are held to,” Johnson said. “So, if you are biking on the street, you are treated as if you were a vehicle.”

Bicyclists also should wear helmets, use the appropriate hand signals when making turns and wear brightly colored clothing to ensure they’re visible.

They should also ride a bike that properly fits them, ride with both hands on the handlebars except when signaling, carry items in a backpack or strapped to the back of their bikes, tuck their pant legs and tie their shoe laces so they don’t get caught on the bike’s chains, NHTSA indicated. 

Adults should always ride on the street to the far right as possible while children should use the sidewalk.

“When kids are learning to ride a bicycle, it’s perfectly ok to ride on the side,” Johnson said. “They should ride on the sidewalk until their parent or guardian tells them that it’s OK to ride on the street.”

Motorists should also do their part by treating bicyclists like they would any other motorist.

Motorists should yield to bicyclists like they would for other motorists. They also should be aware of bicyclists when they’re backing out of a parking space or from their driveways.

Motorists also need to give bicyclists room and not pass too closely.

“Wyoming has a vulnerable users law that states that vehicles must stay at least three feet away from bicyclists at all times,” Johnson said. “If you come up on a bicyclist and they’re going slow and you can’t pass them safely at that time, you need to stay behind them until it’s safe for you to pass them.”