May is National Bike Safety Month

-As warmer weather begins to arrive across the state, Wisconsin communities can expect to see more bicyclists on the road.  May is National Bicycle Safety Month, which is a great time for both motorists and riders to brush up on the basics of safely sharing the road.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were over 900 crashes involving bicyclists in the state during 2016 (the last year for which statistics are available), with 11 fatalities and 849 injuries.  The vast majority of these crashes (751) occurred in urban areas.

“Traveling on the road requires care and courtesy,” said Amy Stracke, managing director of traffic safety advocacy for AAA – The Auto Club Group and executive director of the Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation. “It’s imperative for motorists and bicyclists to be aware of each other and remember that we are all trying to get to our destination safely.”

In a recent AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey, 41% of bicycle owners in Wisconsin say that roads and streets are where they ride most often, and a majority of riders are concerned about being hit by a vehicle (70%), particularly by distracted drivers (66%). For this reason, AAA – The Auto Club Group and its Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation are working to promote bicycle safety by encouraging all road users to put away distractions and share the road.

To provide an additional level of safety for bicyclists, AAA offers bicycle roadside service with all membership levels in Wisconsin and surrounding states, allowing riders who encounter a mechanical problem on the road to call AAA for assistance.

For a safer, more enjoyable riding environment for everyone, AAA recommends the following tips:

Bicyclists

  • Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than on sidewalks.
  • Follow the same rules of the road as other roadway users, including riding in the same direction as traffic and following all the same traffic signs and signals.
  • Signal all turns.
  • Wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet every time and on every ride.
  • Be visible by wearing bright colors during the day, reflective gear in low light conditions and use head and tail lights at night.
  • Remember that respect is a two-way street. Show motorists the same courtesy that you expect from them.

Motorists

  • Stay alert — avoid all distractions while driving.
  • Yield to bicyclists while turning.
  • In bad weather, give bicyclists extra passing room, just as you would other motorists.
  • Look for bicyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
  • Slow down and give at least three feet of clearance when passing.
  • Reduce your speed when passing bicyclists, especially when the road is narrow.
  • NEVER honk your horn at a bicyclist — it could cause them to swerve into traffic or off the roadway and crash.
  • Always check for bicyclists before opening your car door.
  • Children on bicycles are often unpredictable — expect the unexpected and look out for them.