Get out and enjoy National Bike Month safety this May

Published Apr 29, 2018 at 9:00am

Each year May is recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as National Bike Month.

Established over 60 years ago, National Bike Month gives community members the opportunity to enjoy the many benefits of bicycling.

Additionally, National Bike to Work Day (May 18) and National Bike to Work Week (May 14-18) are recognized across the country during this month. 

New York is ranked as the 23rd Bicycle Friendly State in the nation. Communities that are recognized as bicycle-friendly in the state include New York City, Rochester, Ithaca, and Buffalo.

One contributing factor that boosted New York into the top half of the Bike Friendly states includes the plans for the Empire State Trail, which is a 750-mile trail, bike, and walking path way that connects New York City to Canada, and Albany to Buffalo.

This exciting project is set to be completed by 2020, leaving avid bicyclists and trailblazers waiting just two more short years until they can travel from the western-most part of the state to the eastern-most using their preferred mode of transportation.

Getting back to the now, adults are encouraged to explore the opportunities to bike to destinations, or even just for leisure.

There are many benefits to bicycling, as it is a very effective mode of exercise.

Bicycling can be less strenuous on joints and more pleasurable if you are someone who suffers from a chronic disease, such as arthritis.

Bicycling can vary in intensity, making it accessible to most abilities.

The benefits of getting outside in the fresh air to go for a bike ride don’t need much of an explanation.

The healing properties of nature speak for themselves. However, when bicycling outdoors, safety becomes a concern that should not be overlooked. 

The responsibilities of safely bicycling outdoors falls on two parties, the bicyclist and automobile drivers. Both parties may not be fully aware of the responsibilities of the other, therefore it is important to highlight these factors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a surplus of bicycle safety information on their database.

Overall, this committee has summarized the responsibilities of both bicyclists and drivers.

Bicyclists are considered “traffic: and must follow the rules of the road, which includes paying attention to the movements of motorists and pedestrians, as well as obeying stop signs and red lights,” according to bicycle safety and law enforcement experts.

Bicyclists need to also remember to ride to the right of traffic, and with a group, must ride single file.

Another very important tip for bicyclists is to wear bright colored clothing and bike lights to increase your visibility among drivers. 

Automobile drivers also have a responsibility of safely traveling alongside bicyclists.

Drivers should understand that bicyclists have the legal right to ride on the road.

Although New York has yet to pass a law regarding a safe passing distance, drivers should be mindful when passing a bicyclist by giving them at least 3 feet of space while passing, safety experts advise.

When making a right turn, allow for the bicyclist to clear the intersection prior to making the turn.

As with all driving conditions, drivers should pay constant attention and should never drive distracted. Examples of distracted driving include talking on a cellphone as well as texting. Some studies show drivers consider distracted driving to be an even greater problem than drunk driving.

The Creating Healthy Schools and Communities initiative for Oneida County will be partnering with the Oneida County Public Market and Utica Bike Rescue to host a Bike Safety Event in Utica on May 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The address of the Oneida County Public Market is 321 Main St., Utica.

All community members are welcome to attend this event. Bring your bikes for a free bike safety check and tune-up, provided by Utica Bike Rescue.

For any questions on the Utica Bike Safety Event, contact Creating Healthy Schools and Communities Community Coordinator Sarah Eggan at 315-798-5483 or seggan@ocgov.net