According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 716
bicyclist and 4,378 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2008. That
means that if these statistics are not reversed, nearly 2 bicyclists are killed
every day and 1 pedestrian is killed every 120 minutes.
Walking and biking are becoming increasingly popular forms of
transportation. It seems that I see more and more people out riding their bikes
every day. Maybe you have even considered dusting off your bicycle or are
thinking about walking more often. Whatever the case may be, whether you are a
novice bike rider or an experienced one, reviewing the following safety
information may keep you out of harm’s way.
Whenever possible, you should cross the street at designated
crosswalks. This makes you more predictable and visible. Drivers are required
to yield right-of-way to pedestrians in marked or unmarked crosswalks, however
never step into a street until you are certain right-of-way will be given to
you. You may be walking in front of a driver that does not see you or is not
aware of the law.
It’s always safer to walk on a sidewalk, but if you have to walk in
the street because there isn’t a sidewalk available walk against traffic. This
way you can better see the traffic as it approaches you which will help you
avoid any surprises.
You should wear a properly fitted bike helmet when they ride. Of the
716 bicycle fatalities in 2008, the majority were related to head injuries.
However, proper use of bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as
much as 85 percent and greatly increase your chance of survival.
When riding your bicycle in the street, you must obey the same rules
of the road as a car. This includes obeying traffic signs and signals,
following lane markings, riding in the same direction as traffic, and using
hand signals when you are turning.
Finally, whether on foot or on bike, it is important to increase your
visibility. During the day this could mean wearing bright colors or fluorescent
clothing. At night, you should wear retro-reflective items and use lights. If
you are riding your bike, you could purchase a red blinking taillight to help
approaching motorists see you.
You can find more bicycle safety tips and information about bicycle
statues in the Kansas Bicycle guide, which can be found at www.ksdot.org/burRail/bike/pdf/bikemap-whole.pdf.
Remember, being mindful of your safety while you are out walking and biking can
help prevent you from becoming a statistic.
Becky Pepper is the Bicycle and Pedestrian
Coordinator for KDOT.