Bicycle riding safety tips

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Bicycles are everywhere it seems. People are on bicycles riding for health, or transportation.

How do we, as drivers, keep an eye on bikers? How do bikers keep themselves out of danger, but also fit in with their 4-wheeled companions? There are laws that apply both to the operators of motor vehicles and bicycle riders.

Jason Broadaway belongs to the NorthEast Arkansas Bicycle Coalition and is the bike manager at Gearhead Outfitters in Jonesboro. He says that cars and bikes need to share the road.

"Cars aren't out there trying to hit people so you have to be visible to them to let them know that you are there. Lights, bright colored jerseys, reflective helmets. There's nothing wrong with being as visible as possible out there."

Cyclists call it "sharing the road" and there are numerous signs on the streets encouraging drivers and cyclists to do just that.

Broadaway, "We're out for a bike ride, we don't have anywhere to be. A lot of people in cars are trying to go somewhere and the courtesy has to go both ways."

Jonesboro Police officer Sgt. Doug Formon is both a cyclist and motorcycle officer. He says there are laws that apply to pedaling. "A lot of motorists don't understand the fact that a bicycle has the same rights on the road as does a car. they have to obey the same laws a vehicle does."

Including signaling for turns, stopping at lights, and riding with traffic on the streets.

Formon, "Bicycles can't ride on sidewalks. Everybody always ask, "Why aren't you guys on the sidewalk. You keep the bicycles up there." Well that's against the law."

Bicycles are skinny, a road bike is only about 18 inches across at the handle bars. Unless a driver is looking, it is really easy to miss a rider on a bike.

Broadaway, "Bikes are hard to see, like the way motorcycles are hard to see, like someone walking down the side of the road is hard to see. Just the lack of size and the narrowness makes us invisible."

Riders need to wear bright clothing and reflective helmets, have reflectors and even a rear view mirror can't hurt.

If you are going to ride your bike at night by law, you have to have a headlight and a taillight. These brilliant strobes can be seen both at day and night and are visible for about a mile.

And when it comes to sharing the road, what responsibilities do drivers have?

Formon, "If you're in a vehicle and you're going to overtake a bicycle you've got to make sure give them enough room to be safe. I believe state law says to give them at least a 3 foot easement to get by them. I would rather have a car give me about 8 foot and bike riders don't need to straddle the double yellow lines but hang to the right."

I asked Sgt. Formon and Jason Broadaway for a final bit of advice.

Formon, "My advice would be to any motorist that decides they are going to yell or scream or throw something at a bicyclist you need to remember that bicyclist could possibly be a police officer who is going to take down their tag number and visit with you later."

Broadaway, "A mutual respect for one another, that's what you need to know."

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