Bicycle Safety: Safety Topics - May 2019 Week 2


Monday, May 13

Bicycle Safety

One of our earliest childhood memories is learning to ride a bike. We can all remember our parents equipping us with a bike and maybe a helmet depending on which era we learned to ride.  Then they sent us down the driveway, or ran alongside of us on a flat road, as we learned to properly pedal and balance the bike without training wheels. We all had a different set of rules handed down to us that were as unique as our parents, but it’s a safe bet that we all had one common rule we were all to follow and that was to stay clear of traffic.  Fast forward to our adulthood, we still find ourselves still donning a helmet among other bike gear and taking off down the driveway only now to break that old barrier and join with motor vehicles on the road as we commute to various places nearby.

This week of May 13-17 is National Bike to Work Week, so this week’s Safety Topics will review some key aspects of bicycle safety, including proper use of safety equipment, the rules of the road, and fun ways to encourage others to get out and enjoying cycling safely. Let’s discuss a few FAQ’s and Facts on biking across the U.S.  This week’s discussions will refer to a specific New York law about bicycle safety.  Take some time to discuss the same law specific to your state.

Quick Facts:

  • In 2016, there were 840 pedal cyclists killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States, an increase from 829 in 2015. Pedal cyclist deaths accounted for 2.2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities. (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts)
  • Regardless of the season, bicyclist deaths occur most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., regardless of the season (20% weekdays and 26% weekends).
  • Bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (71%) compared to rural areas (29%).
  • Bicyclist deaths were 5.6 times higher for males than females in 2016.
  • Alcohol was involved in 35 percent of all fatal bicyclist crashes in 2016.

Tuesday, May 14

Bicycle Law Q&A

Does the law require a bicyclist to wear a helmet?

In New York State, all bicyclists under the age of 14 years old are required to wear safety certified bicycle helmets when they are operators or  passengers on bicycles (Sec. 1238(5)).  Children aged 1 to 4 must wear certified bicycle helmet and ride in specially designed child safety seats.  Children under 1 are prohibited from being transported on a bicycle (Sec. 1238(1)(2)).   Any parent or guardian who permits his or her child to violate the helmet law is subject to a fine of up to $50 (Sec. 1238(3),(6)(a)).

Certain communities in New York have passed local ordinances regarding helmet use for bicyclists.  For example, Rockland and Erie Counties require everyone riding bicycles on county property, regardless of age, to wear approved bicycle helmets.

A helmet should fit squarely on top of the head in a level position and cover the top of the forehead, extending down to about an inch above the eyebrows.  The helmet should not be able to slide back and forth on the head or rock from side to side.   In the event of a crash, helmets should be replaced immediately, even if there is no apparent damage.

Wednesday, May 15

More Bicycle Safety Q&A

Should bicyclists obey traffic lights and signs?

Bicyclists must obey all traffic lights and signs and must signal for turns whether riding on a roadway, a bike lane or shared-use pathway with pedestrians.

Can bicyclists receive motor vehicle tickets?

Bicyclists who violate the law are subject to traffic tickets.  Parents can be held responsible for violation by their minor children. (Sec. 1230)

What signals must bicyclists use for turns and stops?

To indicate a left turn, extend the left hand and arm to the left, horizontally. To indicate a right turn, extend the right hand and arm to the right, horizontally, OR extend the left arm and hand horizontally and bend it up at the elbow  (Sec. 1237).

To indicate a stop, extend the left hand and arm to the left, horizontally, and bend it down at the elbow (Sec. 1237).

See the image below for reference.

Thursday, May 16

You guessed it, more bicycle safety Q&A

What equipment is required on bicycles?

A bicycle must be equipped with:

  • A brake that is capable of making the bike tires skid on dry, level pavement (Sec. 1236(c)).
  • A bell, horn or other device that can be heard at least 100 feet away.  Sirens and whistles are not permitted (Sec.1236(b)).
  • A headlight and taillight. A bicycle ridden between a half-hour after sunset and a half-hour before sunrise must be equipped with a white front headlight visible in darkness for at least 500 feet and a red taillight visible for at least 300 feet. One of these lights must also be visible on each side for at least 200 feet (Sec. 1236(a)).
  • Reflectors on the wheels. A bicycle, when purchased new and/or ridden at night, must have reflective tires or wide-angle, spoke-mounted reflectors.  Reflectors must be colorless or amber for front wheels and colorless or red for rear wheels (Sec. 1236(d)).

What other laws should bicyclists know?

A few points:

  • Sit on the bike seat, not the fender or handlebars.  Keep feet on the pedals and never carry more people on the bike than the number for which it was designed (Sec. 1232).
  • Keep at least one hand on the handlebar at all times (Sec. 1235).
  • Never attach yourself or your bike to another vehicle on the roadway (Sec. 1233).
  • Never drive a bicycle with a motor attached on any public highway except as defined by law (Sec. 2268).

Never wear more than one earphone attached to a radio, tape player or other audio device (Sec 375(24-a)).

Friday, May 17

Discuss safe cycling in your area.

Everywhere you go in this country, you will notice that more and more communities are investing multiple bicycle/walking trails and specific bicycle lanes on the road, making the experience more enjoyable and safer.   Use this opportunity to share with your colleagues some of your favorite cycling routes so they may enjoy them as much as you.  Also discuss personal safety experiences you’ve had while cycling.

Tags: safety topics , health and wellness , personal home safety ,

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