Bike safety stressed during summer months

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With summer in full swing, more people are spending time outside taking advantage of long days and warm weather.

As a result, traffic typically increases during the summer, and part of that traffic includes bicyclists.

Unfortunately, the combination of motor vehicles and bicycles does not always mix.

According to the Snell Memorial Foundation, more than 900 bicyclists are killed each year in the United States. Motor vehicles are involved in 90 to 92 percent of those fatalities.

Each time people head out, whether by car or by bike, there are certain rules of the road that can help prevent potential bicycle accidents.

Jerry Downing, owner of J & R Cyclery, said people should first check with the Craig Police Department for information about bicycle rules and regulations.

Downing also recommended several safety precautions.

"Ride with a helmet and obey the traffic rules," Downing said. "And watch for kids who are riding. Kids don't look for cars, and you have to watch for them at all times."

Gay Page, the bicycle/pedestrian program manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation said the potential for biking accidents can be reduced if certain rules are followed.

"Bicycles are considered vehicles by law in Colorado," Page said. "(Riders) need to keep their eyes open for motorists at all times. They should make eye contact with motorists before turning or merging.

"Ride with the flow of traffic, and ride on the right side of the road, in a right lane if one is available. And make sure you have room to maneuver."

Page said bicyclists should think about safety first.

"Play it safe," Page said. "Be predictable. Ride single-file, it will make it easier for the flow of traffic. Obey traffic signals and use hand signals so motorists know what to expect. Ride in a straight line, and don't weave in and out of cars."

Page said bicyclists should also stay three feet to the left of parked cars, in case a door is opened.

Page said motorists could also do their part to reduce bike accidents.

"Motorists need to patient when passing a bicyclists," Page said. "Just like any slow-moving vehicle, be safe and patient, and leave a minimum of three feet between the car and the bicycle.

Also, Page said, when making a right turn, cars may speed up to pass a bicyclist and then slow down to make the turn. But the bicyclist is maintaining the same speed. So speeding up may actually cause a bicyclist to hit the right side of the car.

Page said motorists must be aware of their surroundings.

"Motorists need to start learning to look for bicycles and pedestrians when changing lanes and when turning," Page said. "Make that part of what you're scanning for."

Page said extra caution should be used when driving around children.

"Younger children won't have the same decision-making skills as adults," Page said. "Slow down when children are around. They don't have the same depth perception or peripheral vision - they can't tell how fast something is moving towards them. Be extra careful in neighborhoods where children are playing. Darting out riding bicycles and darting out from the driveway are the two most prevalent accident types between motorists and children."

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