The coronavirus pandemic has forced the most active of people to stay indoors and work from home. Shelter-in-place orders have only exacerbated the sense of cabin fever. As restrictions loosened, the shut-ins turned or returned to riding bicycles. Surprisingly, they found fellow helmet-clad compadres with former cyclists resuming their travels with a “rookie class” of newbies tired of their sedentary lives.
In response to the increased two-wheel activity, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released guidelines on how to stay safe on bikes while navigating through COVID-19. Part of the motivation behind revisiting the recommendations is the horrific stat from 2018 that saw 856 bicyclists killed in traffic accidents, a jump of 51 fatalities from the previous year. The 6.3 increase ranks as the biggest number of lives lost since 1990, which had 859.
Recommendations to Stay Safe
If only to avoid repeating history, the NHTSA has provided a list of ways to stay safer, if not alive during the day and particularly during the evening:
- Be seen by wearing reflective, visible clothing
- Do not assume that motorists can see you
- Wear a helmet that fits you
- Tuck in shoelaces and pant legs
- Ensure bikes have a white front light and a rear red light
- Do not carry items that will take your hands off the handlebars
- Ride with, not against the traffic flow
- Adhere to the same rules motorists must abide by
- Be proactive in seeing any obstructions or hazards
- Avoid technology-related distractions such as music and texting
What may be obvious advice can still help bicyclists of all skill levels stay safe. This year has had enough unnecessary losses without exceeding another bicycle fatalities record.