Opinion: Stay safe on roads this summer
Warmer temperatures mean more bicyclists will return to the road, and together, motorists and bicyclists must share the road.
In the last five years (2008-12), 44 bicyclists died on Minnesota roads and 4,599 were injured.
During this period, more than half of bicyclist deaths (24) and 60 percent of injuries (2,852) occurred between June and September.
In 2012, seven bicyclists were killed and 875 were injured on Minnesota roads.
To reduce crashes, motorists must treat bicyclists like they’d treat any other vehicle, said Sue Groth, MnDOT state traffic engineer. “And bicyclists on the road must act like vehicles — meaning stop at stop signs, signal turns and be visible.”
Each year, about one-third of bicycle crashes occur during afternoon rush hours. Three out of five bike crashes occur in cities with populations of 50,000 or more.
Each year, riders ages 15-24 account for around one-third of all bicyclists killed or injured, and nearly 75 percent of bicyclists killed or injured are male. In the past five years, about 150 children bicyclists ages 10-14 are killed or injured annually.
The primary reason crashes occur for both bicyclists and motorists is failure to yield right of way.
For bicyclists, another leading crash factor is disregard for a traffic control device — such as a stop sign or traffic light. For drivers, it’s inattention.
Both motorists and bicyclists are at fault for half of all bicycle-vehicle crashes.
Bicyclists need to be seen. Wear bright clothing/reflective gear and use lights in both the front and back of the bike.
Wear a helmet and ensure it fits correctly. Signal turns.
Ride on the road, and ride in the same direction as traffic.
Obey all traffic control signs and signals, just as motorists.
Assume drivers can’t see you. Look out for your own safety, as distracted drivers aren’t looking for you.
Don’t use headphones.
Motorists need to drive at safe speeds and drive attentively.
Give bicyclists room -maintain at least a 3-foot clearance when passing.
Look twice and check blind-spots — especially before turning.
Use caution when opening vehicle doors after parking.
This isn’t a lot to remember, but if we all do, the roads can be safely shared now that summer traffic is upon us. — Park Rapids Enterprise