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Bike and pedestrian safety is everyone’s concern

July 18, 2019

A pedestrian crossing a street


If you think it’s exclusively up to bicyclists and pedestrians to keep themselves safe, think again. Drivers share that responsibility, too. For example, although bicyclist behaviors (such as not obeying a traffic signal) contribute to about half of all crashes with vehicles, driver behaviors (such as distraction) contribute to the other half. And considering that pedestrians and bicyclists make up almost 12 percent of all traffic fatalities every year, their safety is a significant issue.

It doesn’t have to be a problem, though, and whether you walk, ride a bike, or drive, you can take concrete steps to solve it. A few safety tips are listed below, but you can also read the bike and pedestrian laws for more detail.

Drivers

  • Never drive distracted.
  • Always drive the speed limit.
  • Look carefully for bikes and pedestrians, including small children and people in wheelchairs.
  • Take particular care in intersections, when turning, and when opening your door after parking on the roadside. Don’t forget your blind spots.
  • Stop for a pedestrian crossing at any corner, even if it isn’t marked with a crosswalk. This is the law.
  • When other vehicles are stopped for a pedestrian, don’t pass them.
  • When passing a cyclist, give them at least three feet of space.

Bicyclists

  • Obey all traffic signs and signals, just like you would if you were driving a car.
  • Ride on the road in the same direction as traffic.
  • Signal your turns and stops.
  • Use lights and reflectors when it’s dark so that motorists can see you.

Pedestrians

  • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Cross only at corners, a marked crosswalk, or where a traffic light is present, never in the middle of a block.
  • Don’t enter a crosswalk if an oncoming vehicle won’t have enough room to stop.
  • When crossing the street, make eye contact with drivers to be sure they’ll stop.
  • Use the sidewalk. If there isn’t one, walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic.
  • Pay attention and look for additional cars while crossing the street. Never assume drivers see you.
  • Wear bright-colored or reflective clothing when walking at night.

In all cases, avoid drugs and excessive alcohol. They can impair your judgment as severely on a bike or on foot as they can behind the wheel. If you familiarized yourself with traffic laws, obey the traffic signs and signals, and follow these safety tips, you have a much greater chance of staying safe, whether you’re a bicyclist, a pedestrian or a driver.