COLUMBUS — The number of people killed on bicycles is on the rise, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash statistics. As Ohioans break out the bicycles during May, National Bike Month, after a long, cold winter, AAA urges both cyclists and motorists to exercise caution and share the road to prevent crashes.
Bicycle-related traffic fatalities reached 840 in 2016, the highest number on record. That includes 18 Ohio cyclists. Last year, nearly 1,500 bicycle-related crashes happened in Ohio, and Ohio’s bicycle deaths rose to 19, according to Ohio Department of Public Safety crash statistics. Another 169 cyclists incurred incapacitating injuries on Ohio’s roads.
“The number of bicycle-related deaths and injuries is unacceptable,” said Kellie O’Riordan, traffic safety program manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “Lessons in bicycle safety should start as soon as little feet touch the pedals of their first tricycle, and continue throughout adulthood. Motorists need to be aware of their surroundings and look out for cyclists that don’t have the same level of protection as motorists.”
Sharing the road
It’s a two-way street when it comes to sharing the road.
Motorist and cyclists should:
- Remember, in Ohio, bicycles are considered vehicles, and have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, including the right to ride in the lane of traffic. It’s actually illegal for bicyclists to ride against traffic or on sidewalks.
- Abide by Ohio’s 3-foot passing law, which mandates motorists maintain at least 3 feet clearance when passing a bicycle traveling along the road in the same direction.
- Never honk at bicyclists. They may startle and swerve off the road or into traffic.
- Bicyclists should be visible and predictable. Wear reflective clothing at night and always ride where drivers can see you. Don’t swerve between parked cars.
- Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Properly fitted helmets are an important safeguard against brain injuries, the most common cause of bicycle-related fatalities.
- Always remain alert and avoid distractions, whether on a bike or in a car.
If a bicycle-related crash does occur, remember, it’s illegal to flee the scene. A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report found that hit-and-run crash deaths are on the rise, and most (65 percent) of the victims of these fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists. Motorists involved in a bicycle-related crash should remain on scene, assist the injured and call 911.
During a survey of Ohio bicyclists, more than 81 percent said they had broken down while riding their bicycles. That’s why AAA Ohio now offers Bicycle Breakdown Service, standard with any AAA Ohio membership.
Members who experience a bicycle breakdown (flat tire, broken chain, etc.) while riding in AAA Ohio Auto Club’s territory can call AAA, make their way to the nearest accessible road and a service truck will transport them and their bicycle where they need to go.
AAA members can also take advantage of discounts at more than a dozen Ohio bicycle shops. For more information, visit AAA.com/Bicycle.