Bicycle Safety Tips while on Spring Break

Beach towns are a popular spring break vacation destination, and often a bicycle is the easiest form of travel in these small, often-congested areas. But bicyclists are vulnerable to other road users, especially motor vehicles. In fact, the first automobile crash in the United States occurred in New York City in 1896, when a motor vehicle collided with a bicycle rider (Famous First Facts, by Joseph Kane).

Tips for Bicyclists

  • Bicyclists must obey all traffic controls and signals.
  • Be sure to comply with helmet laws in the state where you are riding. Bicycle helmets are recommended for all ages.
  • Watch for pedestrians as well as motor vehicles.
  • If you are allowed to ride on the sidewalk, yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing.
  • Keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
  • On the roadway, check behind you before changing lanes. Signal your intent to turn to other vehicle operators by pointing in the direction you are going to turn.
  • Do not ride two abreast when this will impede the flow of traffic.
  • Do not wear headphones or any other listening device except a hearing aid while bicycling.

Tips for Motorists

  • Give bicycles extra space whenever possible. Some riders may not be able to control their bicycles well and may suddenly get in your path. Be sure to give extra space to young riders, riders who seem distracted, riders who may have been drinking and older riders.
  • As you start to pass, approach slowly and try not to frighten the rider. Be aware of the possible path the bicyclist may take. Riders may swerve for hazards you are not aware of, such as potholes, puddles, and storm drains.
  • Always start your pass well behind the bicycle. You should have at least a half-lane of space between your vehicle and the bicyclist. If you do not have this much space, wait for a gap in oncoming traffic and then pass.
  • Before you move over to pass, signal to traffic behind you to let them know that you are changing lanes. You may want to warn the cyclist by tapping your horn.
  • At night, use your low beam headlights when traveling near bicyclists. Avoid shining your high beam headlights into riders’ eyes.
  • When parallel parking, check for bicycles before opening the driver’s side door.

Bicycling is a fun, efficient form of transportation. Put safety first for a better spring break.