I have concerns about bike safety as more people ride these days.
1. Wearing a helmet isn’t optional. A fall can happen without warning, in an instant. When someone slid into me, I fell on my shoulder and whacked my head so hard the helmet broke.
2. When biking downtown, stay 3 to 4 feet from parked cars — effectively taking the lane. Someone could open a car door as you go by. In Holland, drivers are required to use their right hands to open their car doors, forcing them to look behind their cars for approaching traffic.
3. When you pass a rider or walker you should signal your approach with a bell and the words,”Passing on your left (or right)” in time for people to move over. They usually don’t hear you coming and could easily step into your path.
4. Always signal a turn by pointing with your left or right arm. Most drivers don’t use a turn signal. Riders beware and, especially at an intersection, stay behind the driver.
5. If you bike on roads, stay in the “share road” lane indicated by a bicycle symbol on the tarmac. If there are no share road symbols, stay as far to the right as you can ride safely.
6. Stay in single file — I can’t say this enough. Car drivers become very irritated if you ride in a pack and they can’t safely pass you. Angry drivers are dangerous. Once, a driver came so close to me that I could feel the side of the big red truck sliding along my arm. This was deliberate as there was plenty of room. A bump in the road could have thrown me into the truck. Drivers will yell at me telling me to get off the road — in town and on country roads. Stay in a single file.
7. The path along Carroll Creek is mixed-use with walkers having priority. However, walkers should be aware of bike riders and move aside if they can. City sidewalks, by the way, are for pedestrians, not mixed use.
8. Beware, some bike riders think that Carroll Creek Park is a raceway.
As more of us take up riding for fun, exercise or as an alternative to cars, I believe that we should have to learn bike safety rules. Drivers should know what to expect from bike riders. In fact, I believe that bike safety should be a required part of a driver’s license exam, helping to protect both drivers and riders.