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Remember your bicycle safety

Warmer temperatures and longer days mean more people will be looking to take advantage of participating in outdoor activities.

For some, that will include riding a bicycle.

It’s a great activity for fun and fitness, spending family time and for commuting to work, shopping or other essential trips, according to the League of American Cyclists. The organization, which has been around since 1880, has promoted May as National Bike Month since 1956 as a way to showcase the benefits of bicycling and encourage people to ride.

While an enjoyable activity for fun and a great source of exercise, it takes a great deal of attention from bicyclists and the motorists they share the roads with to keep everyone safe. And that’s likely to be a bigger problem this year, according to AAA East Central, which covers our Tri-State Area.

A growing number of people have discovered bicycling during the past year, the not-for-profit association reports. Sales of bicycles increased 62 percent between January 2020 and October, according to the NPD Group, a market research company, and the sales of e-bikes increased even more — climbing by 144 percent during the same period.

Also increasing has been the number of deaths of bicyclists involved in crashes with vehicles, rising 36 percent between 2010 and 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation has reported. The number of preventable deaths from bicycle transportation, according to the National Safety Council, increased from 793 in 2010 to 1,089 in 2019, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission reported 846 bicyclists were killed in motor-vehicle traffic crashes in 2019.

One of the best ways bicyclists can help protect themselves is by wearing a helmet. According to information compiled by Attewell, Glase and McFadden and reported by the safety council, bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 60 percent and brain injury by 58 percent.

Other tips for cyclists, according to AAA, include riding on roads or shared pathways; following the same rules of the road as other users; signaling all turns; wearing bright colors during the day and reflective gear in low-light conditions; using head and tail-lights at night; and showing motorists the same courtesy you expect from them.

Motorists, meanwhile, AAA says, should stay alert; yield for bicylists when turning; make a visual check for bicyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots; allow at least 3 feet of clearance when passing; reduce speed when passing bicyclists; avoid honking horns at bicyclists; always check for bicyclists before opening car doors; and pay special attention to children on bicycles, who can be unpredictable.

It’s always important to follow these tips, but even more so in the period that runs from June through October, when the number of preventable bicycle-related deaths are higher than normal, the safety council reports.

By staying alert, using common sense and showing respect for everyone on the road, bicyclists and motorists can have a fun — and safe — summer.

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