You may see me tooling around Michigan City, LaPorte and SE Michigan on my bent this summer. When I find something that I like, I usually have two. In Florida, I ride my 2002 in Rans V2 - in NW Indiana I ride by 2010 Rans V2. I have two beige Camry Hybrids, and up until the last couple of years, I only wore white shirts. I know, I'm a little different.
In the last few years more and more people are riding bicycles and with more people riding, there are more potential folks getting injury. A recent study out of the UC San Francisco found over the last 17 years in the US, we spent $237 billion on adult bicycle injuries. The report noted the following:
$209 billion was spent on non-fatal bicycle accidents;
$28 billion was spent on fatalities;
Around 6,500 more adult cycling injuries every year;
There were 19 more deaths last year than the year before; and
The older the person, the higher the costs associated with injury.
Safer Roads Will Decrease Bicycle Accidents
Riding on a road chewed up by potholes, or sidewalks that are in disrepair by tree roots cause a high number of single bicycle accidents. Additionally, a lot of drivers and pedestrians are not looking for bicycles, which account for another large portion of bike accidents. The study concluded that many of these injuries can be preventable with safer roads.
Bike Friendly Roadways
There are a number of ways that our area can become more bike friendly. Should we consider dedicated bike lanes? Signs reminding pedestrians and motor vehicles to look out for bikes? Rails to trails?
If you drive on US 12 out of Michigan City towards Porter County, there is a small shoulder to the right of the fog line. The problem is that the roadway is all chewed up. The only place a bicyclist can ride is inside the fog line - otherwise the rider will lose control or blow a flat. My vote is for some of our roadways to be fixed - what is yours?
Bicycle Safety Tips
Here are a few safety tips that can make your bike ride safer:
Ride with the flow of traffic. This allows you to be more visible to drivers. It is easier for the driver to judge how much they have to move their vehicle to the left when coming up from behind you as opposed to coming at you head on. Further, a driver coming up on you has much more reaction time than a driver that you are approaching head on.
Follow the rules of road. Stop at stop signs and lights. Use hand signals when possible.
Wear bright clothing. The truth is when you are on your bike and you are coming up to a side street or an exit from a parking lot, drivers who are pulling out making a right-hand turn, look right through or past you. If you wear bright clothing it will cause a pattern interrupt for the driver and will make you more visible.
Use a light if you are riding at dawn or dusk. These two parts of the day have low visibility.
Never assume a motorist or pedestrian sees you. Attempt to make eye-contact or have them acknowledge your existence with a waive or hand signal.
Follow these tips and hopefully you will have a safer summer on your bike. If you see me riding around town, give me a shout out!