Here in Indiana and Illinois, there are lots of people encouraging bike riding, not just for sport or exercise, but as a way to commute to work or school. Riding a bicycle to work fights against climate change as well ask helping to lower personal expenses of driving a car or truck every day.
You can save lots of money by opting to ride a bike to work instead of taking your car, and statistically since many American workers live within 3 miles of where they work, riding a bicycle instead of driving a car is a viable alternative.
The Danger of Bicycle Crashes
However, riding a bicycle comes with its own dangers. When someone riding a bike is involved in an accident with a car, truck, SUV, minivan, or other large motor vehicle, the bicyclist has little body protection and is often seriously injured in the car crash. This is true even if the vehicle is traveling at a slow rate of speed. Risk of severe and long-term injuries only increase if the bike rider has chosen not to wear a bike helmet at the time of the accident.
Many may not consider bicycle-car accidents a serious concern. Still, thousands of people are involved in these kinds of accidents each year, and as more and more people begin riding bicycles alongside Indiana and Illinois roadways, there will be a rising risk of fatal bicycle accidents in our part of the country.
People do get really hurt, and sometimes they don’t survive their injuries. Just last September in Porter, Indiana, Albert Green was killed in a bicycle accident where he fell from his bike alongside Waverly Road and hit his head; his traumatic brain injuries were so serious that he did not survive.
And fans of Bono and the band U2 are aware that Bono was in a serious bicycle accident last year while riding his bike in New York City. Bono suffered injuries to his head, neck, spine, elbow, hand, and face and has sustained permanent injuries to his hand. Bono’s bike accident may mean that his hand injuries are so severe he will never be able to play the guitar again. For the frontman of a mega-band like U2, that is an extremely serious result from an accident that many fail to respect as a dangerous one: bike accidents get less respect than motorcycle crashes, for instance.
Bicycle Safety Tips
1. Bike Riders
* Wear a properly-fitted helmet that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.
* Check your bike before heading out: check all equipment and parts for proper fit and function, including tires, brakes, handlebars and seats.
* Ride as a vehicle on the road; always travel in the same direction as traffic.
* Obey traffic signs, signals and lane markings; signal all turns; and follow local laws.
* Be predictable by riding in a straight line and use hand signals at every lane change or turn. Look ahead for traffic and obstacles.
* Be visible: wear bright colors, reflective materials and lights on your bicycle at night.
* Ride focused and alert: don’t use electronic devices, and never ride impaired by alcohol or drugs.
* Respect designated bicycle lanes.
* 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.
* Yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals.
* Look for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.
* Never drive distracted or impaired. Always buckle up.