Riding your bicycle on Long Island in the fall can be fun. It can be relaxing. It can definitely be very good exercise. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous.
In 2005, there were nearly 6,420,000 auto accidents in the United States. This resulted in 2.9 million injured people and 42,636 deaths. Roughly 115 people die every day in vehicle crashes in America—that’s one death every 13 minutes. About one in 40 of those deaths is a cyclist.
The last time I counted, there were 254,403,082 cars clogging up this overly paved planet. This means cyclists have no choice—for now—except to figure out how to co-exist with the internal combustion engine.
Here are 10 suggestions for doing so safely:
1. Never assume motorists can see you. Play it safe especially near corners. Be sure to use your horn and your voice to make your presence felt.
2. Ride in the street and with the traffic. You have to think like a motorist.
3. Maintain a safe speed. As Sinatra sings: “Nice and easy does it every time.”
4. Avoid busy streets. It’ an obvious equation: more cars = more danger.
5. There’s safety in numbers. The more riders in your pack, the more visibility you’ll have and the more room drivers will give you.
6. Know the traffic laws in the your area. A simple but powerful step.
7. Put lights and reflectors on your bike. Be visible at night.
8. Always wear a helmet. Helmets are 85% effective in preventing head injury.
9. Take good care of your bike. Proper maintenance will increase safety.
10. Be an activist for two wheels, not four. Less cars = safer roads and a cleaner planet.
Check out Transportation Alternatives (www.transalt.org) for more info.
This column is dedicated to the memory of James Langergaard. Mickey Z. can be found at mickeyz.net.