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Safer driving, riding could save cyclist lives

EncToday: Safer driving, riding could save cyclist lives

August 10, 2011 12:00 AM

Jane Moon
Staff Writer

With the escalating price of gas, other modes of transportation are becoming more appealing. A lack of a mass public transit system in the area makes bicycles seem like a wallet-friendly and an environmentally-friendly option.

But as environmentally friendly and cheaper that cycling may seem, dangers continue to lurk on the roads, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reporting 630 cycling deaths in 2009 in the United States.

That fact worries Riverside Bicycles and Outdoor Sports owner Bert Statum, who said he feels safer when riding in big numbers.

“My belief is ride in numbers, get more respect; ride by yourself, get less respect,” Statum said. “We have different routes around the county. We’ll do 25-35 mile loops, we’ll leave the store … using either two-by-two or single file.”

Bill Rose is part of Riverside’s cycling group and said he also feels safer when riding in a group.

“One of the reasons I like riding with a group is you’re so much larger,” Rose said. “Typically, riding as a cohesive unit, you have such a larger visibility, and you have so much motion and color. People tend to see you more quickly, and you’re just in a lot safer environment in a group.”

Statum said a lack of respect and right to the road can make bicycling hazardous when around motorists.

“People have had bottles thrown at them, bikes have been run off the road, cut off,” he said. “I guess this day and time, people are in just such a hurry, that when they get a cyclist going 20 miles an hour and the speed limit is 45 or 55, the cars don’t want to give the cyclists the right of way.”

Cyclists have the same right to the road and follow the same rules as motorists do, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation.

But an issue Rose sees all too often in Kinston are people riding bicycles incorrectly and dangerously.

“I see people riding bicycles — not what I would consider a cyclist — but other people riding bicycles that don’t understand where they need to ride or how to ride,” he said. “I see a lot of people riding on the opposite side of the road. … If you’re going with the traffic, you’re going to have less of an impact (in a collision).”

Cyclists must ride on the right side of the road following the flow of traffic, obey traffic signs and lights, signal when turning or merging and cannot ride on sidewalks. In addition, those 16 years old and younger must wear helmets when riding bikes, according to NCDOT.

Rose said even though he has been cycling for 10 years, he always stays alert while riding and is defensive when on his bike as a safety precaution.

“I’m comfortable riding in traffic, but I am always, always looking,” he said. “You just can’t be complacent, because you run so much of a risk. You have to remember as a bicycle rider, no matter who has the (right of way), the car is always going to win (in a wreck).”



Bicycling safety tips
 

  • Ride on the right side for the road, going with the slow of traffic
  • Obey all traffic signs and lights
  • Signal whenever you intend to turn, merge into another lane or stop
  • Yield the right-of-way whenever you enter the road or change lanes or road position
  • Use lights and reflectors when riding after dark
  • Don’t ride bikes on sidewalks
  • Wear a helmet, no matter what age


Source: N.C. Department of Transportation




Bicycling hand signals:

  • Left turn — left arm straight out
  • Right turn — left arm up at right angle
  • Stop — left arm down at a right angle


Source: N.C. Department of Transportation