Wednesday, October 22 2008 @ 02:08 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Faced with soaring gas prices, many commuters have traded in the gas pump for the air pump to tune-up their previously sedentary bicycles. According to a national study conducted by the Bikes Belong Coalition, 95% of bicycle shops said their customers attributed high gas prices to the purchase of new wheels this summer.
The shift to cycling brings new responsibilities. “People who are pulling old bicycles out of the garage really need to take them to a bike shop to make sure that they are properly working,” said Avery Stonich, Marketing and Communications Director of
the Bikes Belong Coalition.
Additionally, it is up to bicyclists (old and new) to educate themselves.“ The streets are very different now from the way they were 20 years ago. We are trying to make sure that we get the word out about the rules of the road and basic riding techniques so that people enjoy the experience,” said Andy Clarke, Executive Director of League of American Bicyclists. “You are and should be treated exactly the same as if you’re behind the wheel of a car — you have the same rights and responsibilities.”
That includes stopping at red lights and stop signs. According to a study completed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, 21.7% of crashes experienced by motorists and cyclists result from a motorist failing to yield — meaning the motorist enters an intersection and fails to stop at a traffic signal, striking a bicyclist who is traveling through the intersection. Equally alarming, 16.8% of crashes involving motorists and cyclists result from a bicyclist failing to yield at an intersection. This means that 38.5% of motorist-bicycle crashes could be eliminated simply by stopping at red lights and stop signs.
If you’re considering making the switch from four wheels to two, there are some simple tips to avoid injury. Stonich’s top three rules: wear a helmet, ride with in the rules of the road, and be predictable.“ [Bicyclists] need to be comfortable on the road,” said Stonich.“ The truth is, people really need to feel safe to want to ride.”
Bicyclists “are somewhat vulnerable to drivers’ behavior,” said Clarke.“ Be predictable, be visible, be ready for that idiot who is going to run a red light or stop sign; don’t be intimidated, but be ready for that.”
“We are all in this together,” said Clarke. “It’s not about bicyclists or motorists. We all benefit from safe driving.”