New data shows that cycling deaths have risen. Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the number of cyclists killed across the us is up 10%. But there’s a effort underway in Huntsville to raise awareness about cycling safety to help prevent accidents.
Dave Stone is a cycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists. He has been teaching for 15 years. If you’re thinking about biking to work or around town, he says there are a few key things both cyclists and drivers can keep in mind to stay safe.
“The first thing that we teach and is the critical element for cycling safety is cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles,” said Stone.
He says it’s safest for cyclists to use ride in the center of the lane — with traffic. This is to help prevent drivers from using the same lane as the cyclist to pass them.
“Cycling on a side walk is actually more dangerous than cycling on the roadway with traffic,” said Stone. “That’s because motorists do not expect high speed vehicular traffic coming from sidewalks– especially against traffic.”
There’s an ordinance in Huntsville that prohibits cyclists from riding bikes on sidewalks. Another tip is for cyclists to be as visible as possible.
“By law, they are required to have a headlight and they are recommended to have a tail light when cycling at night,” said Stone.
Stone says the cycling community in Huntsville recently worked with the city bike committee to help cyclists without lights.
“Rather than police officers handing tickets out to cyclists, we got them lights,” he said. “The police handed out lights to cyclists they saw at night.”
When it comes to safety ideas for drivers, Stone says motorists should expect to see cyclists on all roads in town — other than interstates– where cyclists aren’t allowed.
“Expect to see cyclists moving with traffic, using the full lane. It’s safer for them and they’re not going to delay you that much. Just pass them as you would normally pass any other slow moving vehicle — whether it was a tractor, construction vehicle, anything,” he said.
If you’re interested in getting into cycling, there’s a group that meets at Blevins Bicycle Company to go for a ride every Wednesday. They call it the Speedway Sunset Cruise. They roll out at 6PM, and both beginners and experienced cyclists are encouraged to come. If you are new to cycling, they will help get you set up and comfortable on the bicycle. All you need to bring is a bicycle and a helmet.