VANCOUVER, May 27 /CNW/ - As the days get warmer and longer, May is traditionally the start of cycling season around the province. This means more bicycles will be on the road and the need for cyclists - and other road users - to take extra caution.
May 31 to June 6 also marks the annual Bike to Work Week in British Columbia, and this year's event comes at a time when more and more people are turning to their bikes as we continue to shift to more environmentally-conscious forms of transportation.
There are approximately 1,300 crashes and 1,400 injuries involving cyclists each year in B.C. - a number that has stayed consistent but it is still too high. We can all do our part to help make these numbers even lower and have a shared responsibility to follow the rules of the road and respect all road users. Both drivers and cyclists need to yield to pedestrians and follow instructions from traffic control devices such as red lights and stop signs.
TIPS FOR CYCLISTS
No. 1 - Brighten up: Bicycles can be hard for other road users to spot in the mix of busy traffic so cyclists need to be as visible as possible. Bright, reflective clothing is the best option for the rider, while the bicycle itself needs to have lights. If you ride at night, your bicycle must be equipped with a white headlight visible at 150 metres, and have a rear red light and red rear reflector. Even if you are doing all of these things, never assume you have been seen by another vehicle.
No. 2 - Don't rush: Remember to stop and look in all directions before cycling out of an intersection, driveway or lane. The majority of all children's cycling crashes are caused by a child riding out onto a roadway without looking. Cyclists need to follow the rules of the road. Just like a vehicle, cyclists need to obey stop signs and other traffic control devices and enforcement.
No. 3 - Start at the top: While we're talking rules, remember to always wear an approved bicycle helmet that meets safety standards - it's the law in B.C. and you could be fined for not wearing one. Bike helmets alone could prevent up to 85 per cent of serious injuries, which account for 80 per cent of all bicycle-related deaths. Look for a helmet that is approved by a recognized body such as Snell. More important than who made the helmet is how it fits. It should be snug, but not uncomfortable, and should not be able to roll off your head when the chinstrap is secured.
No. 4 - Get well positioned: Position yourself so other road users can easily see you - don't weave in and out of traffic. Cyclists should ride on the right side of the road and in single file while avoiding other road user's blind spots.
No. 5 - Be defensive: While it's fine to ride in an assertive manner, cyclists need to think and look well ahead - remember, a conflict between a bicycle and a motor vehicle usually results in injury to the cyclist. Pay particular attention for vehicles turning at intersections, and slow down and take it easy on the curves.
TIPS FOR OTHER ROAD USERS
No. 1 - Keep your eyes peeled: As a road user, it is important that you always actively look for cyclists in traffic - especially in the spring and summer months when there are more of them on the road. Intersections are a place to be extra cautious - 40 per cent of all police-attended crashes in B.C. occur at intersections. Wherever possible, make eye contact with the cyclist to let them know you have seen him - a cyclist often relies on eye contact as a means of communication as they try to anticipate your next move. Make sure you understand all of the hand signals that cyclists use.
No. 2 - Put things in perspective: It is often difficult to judge the correct distance between your spot on the road and a bicycle as it is approaching, particularly when turning left. Be extra cautious of cyclists, especially when turning at intersections. Before you pass another vehicle, make sure you check for oncoming cyclists and bicycles ahead of the vehicle you are passing.
No. 3 - Don't get close: Drivers need to pay attention and yield to people on bikes and, must keep at least three seconds of following distance. Bicycle movements can be unpredictable so an increased distance will give you more time to safely react. A significant number of crashes involving cyclists result from side sweeping, so make sure there is enough space if you want to pass a cyclist. Shoulder checking is also important, especially when making right-hand turns at intersections and before you open your door to get out of your vehicle.
No. 4 - Keep out: Bicycle lanes are reserved for cyclists - do not drive, stop or park in a bicycle lane. Sometimes you will need to cross a bicycle lane to turn right, or to pull to the side of the road. When you need to do so, take extra care - be sure to signal well ahead and remember to always yield to cyclists.
No. 5 - Be considerate: Like pedestrians, cyclists are vulnerable road users and don't have the protection drivers have - both in terms of the shell of their vehicle and their seatbelt. Don't honk your horn at a cyclist unless you need to give them a warning. A loud honk could startle them or even cause them to fall.
For further information: For further information: Media contact: Adam Grossman, (604) 982-1332