There is nothing quite like it. The wind in your hair, the clatter of a playing card in the spokes of your wheel, the terrible ache radiating from your elbow after you hit a patch of sand and go pinballing into Mrs. Finkelstein’s freshly painted, white picket fence. It’s the best feeling in the world (the realization that your ulna is now in twice as many pieces as it should be, excepted). Learning how to ride a bicycle is a pinnacle of freedom — one of the first, true “greats” among the many milestones of childhood.
Just as they say you never forget how to ride a bike, it’s impossible to remember the thrill of speeding down a hill, or the confidence it instills when we make it safely to the bottom. But even the best things in life come with some inherent risk. For kids, there’s the probability of a broken bone or a concussion. For adults, there is exactly the same probability of a broken bone or a concussion: though our balance may be better as grown-ups, our hubris tends to cancel out any latent skills we may have.
For all of the emphasis we adults put on kids wearing helmets while riding a bike, we often don’t do the same for ourselves. Just think, when’s the last time you wore a helmet yourself? The answer might surprise you. And yet all of the hazards associated with riding bikes are imminently avoidable.
To highlight all the ways we can reduce the risk of injury to ourselves and others, Howard Blau Law is observing Bike Safety Month this May. We’re not the only ones. Schools and police departments across the country are working to bring awareness, in hopes that we can reduce the number of lives lost in bike-related accidents each year. In fact, in 2017 alone more than 700 people were killed in accidents involving bikes and cars.
For a nation increasingly interested in utilizing eco-friendly modes of transportation, that’s scary. And even when we have bike lanes, there’s still a lot of danger — in part because drivers don’t always pay attention.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department urges everyone to remember to share the road — and not just for this month of awareness. In the interest of keeping cyclists and drivers alike safe year round, the Camarillo Police Department suggests the following safety tips:
- Drivers should look behind them before making a turn at an intersection, especially if crossing into a designated bike lane.
- Drivers should use extra caution backing up or leaving a parking space.
- Bicyclists should go with the flow of traffic and let faster traffic pass.
- Bicyclists should make themselves visible and wear brightly colored clothing.
- Bicyclists are advised to use lights from dusk to dawn (front white light and rear red flashing light or reflectors).
- Bicyclists should always wear a helmet and use hand signals when turning or stopping.
- Both drivers and bicyclists should avoid distractions like using their cell phone.
For drivers, there’s one more huge tip: remember that California Law requires drivers to give cyclists at least three feet of space while passing.
“With warmer weather, there will be more people out on bikes, so it is important that drivers anticipate more bike riders and exercise caution around them,” said Captain Matthews of the Camarillo PD in a press release. “The same goes for bike riders. Be safe, know the law and follow it.”
The road is for everyone. From drivers, to motorcyclist, to pedestrians, to cyclists — and yes, even to scooterists, too.
If we share the road, we’d all be safer for it!
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Kids and Bicycle Safety.” NHTSA. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
“Bicycle helmet use by adults: the impact of companionship.” NCBI. Retrieved 17 May 2019.