By Tamas Mondovics
May is designated as National Bike Month, prompting many bicyclists from coast to coast to celebrate by means of claiming their rightful place on the roadways.
Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling and encourage more folks to give biking a try.
While bicycles are a legitimate form of transportation with laws and regulations established for their use, most riders reportedly fear being hit by vehicles sharing the roadways dampening the occasion’s festive spirit.
Every year, hundreds of cyclists are killed and tens of thousands more are injured in preventable crashes. In a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey conducted online among Florida residents from January 29, 2016 to February 21, 2016, the majority (78 percent), of Florida bicyclists who ride on the road indicated that being hit by a vehicle was their number one concern.
The report also indicated that concerns over distracted drivers (75 percent), drivers not seeing bikers (72 percent) and being cut off by a driver (64 percent) made the top of the list.
“Traveling on the road requires care and courtesy—whether you are operating a car or a bicycle,” said Amy Stracke, executive director of the ACG Traffic Safety Foundation. “Remember, we all have places to go. Let’s share the road so we can all get there safely.”
The survey also showed that many riders feel they are not respected by motorists and must fight for their place on the road.
David Wienrich, 51, of Valrico who has made bicycling his main mode of transportation around the community for the past 19 years has been hit a number of times and said that as driver distractions have increased over the years so did his fear of venturing out on his bicycle.
“People are just not paying attention. It’s outright scary. I see drivers on the phone, texting, not to mention the increased traffic throughout our community,” he said.
Wienrich emphasized the need for sidewalks or bike lanes, which he said he himself would certainly make use of to eliminate some of his fear while riding around in heavy traffic.
As a suggestion, which is shared by most riders, Wienrich said, “Both drivers and bikers need to pay more attention.”
The month of May will come and go, but AAA Auto Club Group and its Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation hopes that everyone on the road makes safety a top priority – not just in May, but throughout the year. Visit www.AAA.com/ foundation for more information.