By Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA

As warmer weather begins to arrive across the country, communities can expect to see more bicyclists on the road. National Bicycle Safety Month in May reminds us to examine our habits as drivers and riders so we can learn ways to share the road more effectively.

Every year, hundreds of bicyclists are dying and tens of thousands more are injured in preventable crashes. In fact, the number of people killed on bicycles is on the rise, with 840 bicyclists killed in crashes in 2016, the highest number on record since 1991, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Traveling on the road requires care and courtesy,” said Amy Stracke, managing director of traffic safety advocacy for AAA – The Auto Club Group and executive director of The Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation. “It’s imperative for motorists and bicyclists to be aware of each other and remember that we are all trying to get to our destination safely.”

In a recent AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey, the majority of bicyclists who ride on the road indicated that being hit by a vehicle was their number one concern (69%), followed by distracted drivers (64%). For this reason, AAA – The Auto Club Group and its Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation work to promote bicycle safety by encouraging all road users to put away distractions and share the road.

To provide an additional level of safety for bicyclists, AAA – The Auto Club Group offers bicycle roadside service with all membership levels, allowing riders who encounter a mechanical problem on the road to call AAA for assistance.

For a safer, more enjoyable riding environment for everyone, AAA recommends the following tips:

Bicyclists

Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than on sidewalks.

Follow the same rules of the road as other roadway users, including riding in the same direction as traffic and following all the same traffic signs and signals.

Signal all turns.

Wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet every time and on every ride.

Be visible by wearing bright colors during the day, reflective gear in low light conditions and use head and tail lights at night.

Remember that respect is a two-way street. Show motorists the same courtesy that you expect from them.

Motorists

Stay alert — avoid all distractions while driving.

Yield to bicyclists while turning.

In bad weather, give bicyclists extra passing room, just as you would other motorists.

Look for bicyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
Slow down and give at least three feet of clearance when passing.

Reduce your speed when passing bicyclists, especially when the road is narrow.

NEVER honk your horn at a bicyclist — it could cause them to swerve into traffic or off the roadway and crash.

Always check for bicyclists before opening your car door.

Children on bicycles are often unpredictable — expect the unexpected and look out for them.