Biking is an enjoyable hobby for people of all ages. Whether you're tooling around the neighborhood or participating in road races, cycling is a great way to get fresh air and exercise.
Unfortunately, cycling can be dangerous. And it is important for us to bring awareness to the potential dangers of cycling to help all riders become highly alert of their surroundings when riding on the road. In 2020, nearly 700 cyclists were killed in crashes involving vehicles. Of those, a quarter were hit-and-runs, which means the driver fled the scene before police arrived.
A higher number of deaths
The data doesn't include the total number of cyclist deaths. Federal statistics won't be available for another two years so the 2020 Cycling Deaths data depends on deaths reported in the news media.
That means additional deaths very likely occurred in 2020 but aren't included in the report, authors say. There's a good possibility that the total number will top 2018's number of deaths, which was the highest since 1990.
"I wasn't surprised by this data," said Tiffanie Stanfield, was quoted as saying in Streets Blog USA. Stanfield is the founder of the non-profit Fighting Hit and Run Driving. "The pandemic provided drivers with a license to speed, and heightened the population of cyclists and pedestrians on the road. That balance is still off — but we haven't done things like increase the enforcement to address the change."
Tips to stay safe
In a perfect world, cyclists would be safe while riding on the country's roadways. But evidence proves the contrary. Cyclists must take steps to protect themselves on the road. Here are some things you should do.
1. Wear a helmet
If you haven't been wearing a helmet while riding, start immediately. It's the best way to keep yourself safe, even if you're just riding around the block.
2. Light up your bike
Install lights on your bike to increase visibility. A white light on the front and a red light on the rear will help drivers determine in which direction you're traveling.
3. Wear brightly colored clothes
Light-colored clothing will help you to be seen no matter the time of day. You can even buy specially made performance clothing with built-in reflective panels.
4. Ride in groups
Riding in a group is generally safer than going solo. It's easier for drivers to see a larger group of riders and are more likely to give riders a wider berth.
5. Lobby for protected bike lanes
Bike lanes are common-sense solutions that will provide a safe place for cyclists to ride. Reach out to your local elected officials and encourage them to create dedicated bike lanes on your local roadways. If you need help in this regard, check out www.peopleforbikes.org.
Follow these tips, so you can remain safe while having fun on two wheels!