Posted: Saturday, August 20, 2011
Riding a bike is a typical summertime pastime. However, without proper precautions it could turn into a nightmare.
Such was the case about a week ago. Crawfordsville resident Nellie Thompson and her husband were driving west on Country Club Road as the sun was starting to set. Anyone who has driven that road at that time of the day knows it’s not the easiest thing to see. What Thompson did see — and thankfully, just in time — were two little girls riding their bikes riding into oncoming traffic.
“I honestly did not think I was going to be able to stop in time to keep from hitting them,” she said. “It was a terrifying experience. I couldn’t have missed them by more than a couple of feet. I was a nervous wreck after that.”
According to the Emergency Medical Services Authority each year 900 people die from injuries sustained in bicycle accidents and another 567,000 end up in hospital emergency rooms — 350,000 of those are children younger than the age of 15.
According to statistics collected in 2008, there were 18 bicyclists killed in Indiana.
While many people may think this is primarily an issue for younger cyclists, national data shows the average age of those killed is on the rise. In 1998, the average age of bicyclists killed in traffic crashes was 32; in 2008 the average age of those killed was 41. In contrast, in 1998 the average age of those injured was 24 and the average age of those injured in 2008 was 31.
On the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association, bicyclists are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.
However, the NHTSA also says drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists. Be courteous — allow at least three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road, look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space, and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals. Be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.