The stay-at-home directive issued by the state of California during the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many people to ride their bicycles for exercise or simply for a change of scenery. May is National Bicycle Safety Month and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) along with the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) are joining hands to take the opportunity and remind everyone to share the road safely and courteously.
CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said in a news release that during this uncertain time, more people are out on the streets biking for exercise, recreation, mental health as well as affordable transportation. Everyone including bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists must stay alert and vigilant to keep everyone else safe.
Safety is Still Important
While the events that are traditionally held throughout California by the CHP for Bicycle Safety Month have been canceled or curbed in 2020, many CHP Area offices will continue to provide helmets to children who don’t have them. Parents and guardians are urged to contact their nearest CHP office for more information on how to get these helmets. The National Safety Council estimates that bicyclists who wear a helmet cut their risk of a head injury by about 60%. California law required bicyclists under 18 to wear a helmet, but of course, it’s a good idea for any bicyclist to wear a helmet to prevent serious brain injuries.
Officials warn that the safety rules and habits for bicyclists don’t change just because of the pandemic and because streets are emptier than before. Statistics from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System show that during the past five years, 792 bicyclists were killed and more than 56,000 were injured in traffic crashes.
What Can Motorists Do?
While bicyclists should take all possible precautions including wearing bright colors and using light when riding at night, motor vehicle drivers should also keep bicyclist safety in mind.
Here are a few tips:
- Give bicyclists extra room when passing. The law requires you to give at least 3 feet to bicyclists when passing them.
- When turning right, look over your right shoulder to scan for bicyclists, especially when crossing into a designated bike lane.
- Before opening a car door, you should also look for passing bicyclists, especially when next to a bike lane.
- Never drive while impaired, distracted, or fatigued. While this is dangerous to all on the road, it can be particularly lethal for bicyclists who, like pedestrians, are more vulnerable.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, please contact an experienced California bicycle accident attorney who can help you seek maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.