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Bike and pedestrian safety is a two-way street

July 30, 2020

Two bicyclists and a pedestrian crossing a street at a crosswalk


If you ride a bicycle or walk anywhere you probably already take measures to keep yourself safe. And if you’re a driver, you do the same. But it’s also important to keep each other safe. No matter your mode of transportation, traffic safety is a two-way street. 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 failure to yield right-of-way) contribute to the other half. And considering that pedestrians and bicyclists make up almost 15 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.

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.

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 3 feet of space.

Whether on foot, biking or driving, 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 familiarize 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.