District residents wheeled along the city’s streets May 18 as part of National Bike to Work Day as more than 10,000 local cyclists participated in a joint campaign by AAA and the Washington Area Bicyclists Association.
The average price of a gallon of gas nationwide stood at $3.92 on the day of the campaign, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, and prices are expected to rise this summer. The high cost of car travel has triggered interest in alternate modes of transportation. But AAA urged both motorists and cyclists to take precautions, as more than 500,000 collisions involving cars and bicycles occur every year in the United States.
“More than 7,000 Washingtonians bike to work each day, and that number is on the rise as the idea of commuting on two wheels instead of four becomes increasingly popular,” said John B. Townsend II, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “We want to remind bicyclists and the motorists with whom they share the road to learn and follow the rules to ensure safety for everyone.”
Would-be bike commuters can take advantage of the Capital Bikeshare program, which offers 1,100 bicycles to those who ride to work in D.C. and Arlington, Va.
The Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education offered tips to bicyclists and motorists on how to share the road.
Tips for Riders:
–Wear a helmet that fits properly. A bicycle helmet should fit comfortable and snug. Helmet straps should always be buckled.
–Help drivers to see you. Wear light or brightly colored clothing. Make sure your bike is equipped with reflectors.
–Ride on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic.
–When riding in a group, form a single line on the right-hand side of the roadway. Be sure to leave plenty of room between you and the bike in front of you, in case you need to stop suddenly.
–Don’t take chances, and don’t wear headphones. Watch what is going on around you. Safe bicycle riding requires your full attention.
Tips for Motorists:
–Increase awareness of bicyclists when making turns and remember to look for bicyclists when traveling in a straight line.
–Check for bicyclists along the edge of the traffic lane before opening car doors so as not to cause a collision when exiting the vehicle.
–Allow three feet of passing space between your vehicle and the cyclist. Tailgating or honking can startle or fluster a bicyclist, causing them to swerve further into the driving lane.
–Be patient. Remember, cyclists are moving under their own power and can’t be expected to go the same speed as cars.
–Pay special attention to blind spots. Due to their size and the location of bike lanes, bikes can often get lost in a car’s blind spot.
–Be attentive on side streets and neighborhoods. Follow the speed limit, avoid driver distraction and always be aware of your surroundings. It is particularly important to be cautious when backing out of a driveway and onto the street.
–Use good common sense. For example, in inclement weather, give cyclists extra room.