May is national bike safety month

Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - May is national bicycle safety month, and as the weather gets warmer more people tend to ride bikes.  It is important that motorists and bicyclists respect each other's rights on the roads.

A bike is defined as a vehicle by North Carolina law, which gives bicyclists the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers.

As the weather gets warmer, more people take to the highways for travel or recreation, raising the importance of motorists and bicyclists respecting each other's rights.

"Bicyclists and motorists share the road and need to travel responsibly," said director of NCDOT's Bicycle and Pedestrian Division Tom Norman in a statement. "Our top priority is safety, and it is more important than ever for bicyclists and motorists to use caution on the roadways."

According to the DOT, more than 900 bicycle-motor vehicle crashes are reported to the NC Division of Motor Vehicles each year.

The majority of incidents occur between the months of May and September, and between the hours of 2 PM and 10 PM.

NCDOT encourages bicyclists to follow these safety tips when riding on the road:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet;
  • Ride on the right-hand side of the road, in the same direction as other vehicles;
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals;
  • Properly signal all movements and make sure movements can be made safely;
  • Yield to drivers and pedestrians, as appropriate; and
  • Avoid riding at night, but if you do, be sure to use a headlight visible from a distance of 300 feet and a red reflector visible at a distance of 200 feet, as well as wear reflective clothing.

NCDOT also urges motorists to follow these safety tips when encountering bicyclists:

  • Keep a lookout for oncoming bicyclists when turning left and wait for them to clear the intersection before completing your turn;
  • After passing a bicyclist on your right, take care not to cut them off by  immediately turning right in front of them;
  • Slow down when passing a bicyclist to make sure the rider is aware of your presence and leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the bicyclist;
  • Stay alert for bicyclists who suddenly swerve or turn in front of you; and
  • Yield to bicyclists, when appropriate, as you would for other motor vehicles.

©2009 WECT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.