National Bike Month is held annually in May. It was established in 1956 and is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists. Celebrated from coast to coast, National Bike Month is an opportunity to tout the various benefits of biking and it’s also a chance to encourage more people to use their bikes for transportation or just for fun.
A lot of people use their bikes. Larger cities tend to host more bicyclists than smaller cities, but it’s a form of transportation that is catching on. According to The National Household Travel Survey, the number of trips made by bicycle in the United States more than doubled between 2001 (1.7 billion) and 2009 (4 billion).
Many cities have designated bike lanes along main roads. Plenty of schools and businesses have bike racks installed for students and employees that ride on a regular basis. Whether people find themselves biking to work, school, or to meet up with friends, the benefits of biking are worth mentioning. Not only is biking a cheaper form of transport than driving a car, pumping the pedals can also benefit your overall health. Plus, by not using transportation that requires gasoline, you’re also helping to preserve the environment.
Even with the usage of bicycles in cities increasing, it’s important to maintain safety as both a rider and a motorist. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA http://1.usa.gov/1HwLZio) show that 726 bicyclists were killed and an additional 49,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2012. This, sadly, is an increase of nearly 6% percent from the year 2011. Most deaths occurred in urban settings at non-intersections.
As a bike rider, be sure to adhere to the following safety tips the next time you hop onto a
- Wear a helmet that fits properly
- Check all parts of your bicycle before riding it. This includes tire pressure, brakes, handlebars, and even your bicycle seat
- Travel the roads as a vehicle yourself. This means you should always go with the flow of traffic and stay in any designated bike lanes
- Always obey traffic signals
- Be predictable. As a rider you should use hand signals and maintain a straight line.
- Always be on the lookout for obstacles
- Be visible: wear bright colors
- Never ride while impaired
Even if you don’t ride a bicycle it is still important to be knowledgeable about riding. That’s because you may come upon a bicyclist one day (if you haven’t already) and you should know how to keep both yourself and the rider safe. As a motorist, adhere to the following safety tips the next time you drive your vehicle.
- Always respect bike lanes. If you’re unsure of how bike lanes work, refer to your state driving manual
- Always allow at least three feet of clearance when you are passing someone on a bicycle
- Before you open your door or back out of a parking space, be sure to check for bicyclists
- Treat cyclists as vehicles on the road. Yield at intersections and properly follow all signs and signals
- Double check for cyclists when you’re turning
- Never drive distracted or impaired
Whether you’re a bike rider or you intend to stay inside a motor vehicle, it’s important to learn about forms of transportation you share the road with. By gaining knowledge, using the safety tips we’ve suggested, and remaining alert on the road, you can help keep the streets safe for everyone on them. Learn more about bike month: http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth