A 22-year-old bicyclist was the victim of a fatal hit-and-run accident in South Los Angeles on April 10th. The driver was recently arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter.
The victim’s family organized a memorial ride that took place the following day. One of the cyclists taking part in that ride was injured by another hit-and-run driver.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, hit-and-run fatalities increased 61% from 2009 to 2016, and almost 70% of those victims were bicyclists and pedestrians.
What can bicyclists – and drivers – do to help prevent these fatal accidents?
Most bicyclists are probably aware of these safety tips, but a refresher course never hurts.
Ride with traffic, never against it
You should have learned this as a child, but you might be surprised – it is estimated that nearly a quarter of all bicyclists ride against traffic rather than with traffic. Drivers are not expecting to see bicyclists on the wrong side of the road, which makes an accident all too likely.
Use a headlight, day and night
A headlight will make you more visible during the day as well as at night. A bright LED headlight affixed to your helmet is the best option. A taillight helps make you more visible to cars approaching from behind as well.
Always, always wear a bike helmet
Bicyclists over the age of eighteen are not required by California law to wear a helmet, but you should wear one anyway. In 2016, 51% of riders killed in fatal bicycle accidents were not wearing a helmet.
Use your mirror
You have one, right? If not, you should get one. Either a handlebar or helmet mirror will do. Use it to see the traffic coming up behind you, especially when you are coming to an intersection.
And here are some simple but important tips for drivers.
Give bicyclists some space
Drivers should pass a bicyclist only when there is 3-5 feet of space between the car and the bike. If you don’t have that much space, hang back until you do.
Look before opening your car door
Opening your car door into a bicyclist can be deadly. The force of your door will push the bicyclists into the path of traffic. A quick look in your rearview mirror is all it takes.
Don‘t drive while distracted
You know better than to text while behind the wheel, but that is not the only form of distracted driving. When done while you are behind the wheel, things such as selecting music, eating (you can get a ticket for this in California), and applying makeup all constitute distracted driving.
And when you are distracted, you just may not see the bicyclist in your path before it is too late.
Bikes and cars must share the same roads. Taking the above precautions will make those roads safer for both bicyclists and drivers.