Bicycles and Safety

This recent article and several incidents in the past week have made me reflect on bicycle safety. Safety is the number one reason I hear why people do not bike in our region. Swarthmore can put all the share the road sharrows on Chester Rd. it wants, it won’t make anyone feel safe biking along that narrow, heavily traveled road. There’s few signs our car-dominated society will change any time soon though. There was a time when the public right of ways didn’t grant primacy to automobiles. May it be so again one day. But, until then, here’s some lessons I’d like to pass on from 3000 miles of biking in Nether Providence and Swarthmore.

  • Do not pass a bicyclist and then immediately turn right. This seems like it’ll be the most likely event to injure me. Just yesterday a driver sped past me then immediately turned right in front of me cutting me off and forcing me to avoid hitting them. Just wait behind the bicyclist if you have to, don’t kill someone.
  • In PA, drivers are required to leave 4 feet between their car and a bicyclist when passing. On narrow streets like Rose Valley and parts of Providence, that can be hard if traffic is coming from the other direction. Patience. The worst offenders of this seem to be SEPTA and school buses, however.
  • If you are on a bike, travel in the direction of traffic on the road. Do not bike on the wrong side of the road!
  • If a bicycle stops at a stop sign (by law they are required to, but I’ve never seen anyone else do so) and you are driving and turning into the direction the bike is going, please proceed before the bike if they are stopped and waiting. Otherwise you then have to pass the bicycle right away.
  • When exiting your car parked along the roadway, look behind you before opening the door. Cyclists running into doors suddenly opening is probably the most common cause of injury in urban areas.
  • Bicycles can use sidewalks in most of Pennsylvania (unless you’re in a “business district”, whatever that is, or there’s a dedicated bike lane, which there isn’t anywhere around here) but must yield to pedestrians.
  • The other day I saw someone biking while carrying a helmet. Not wearing it. Carrying it. It doesn’t work that way. If you’re biking, wear a helmet.

Categories: Ramblings