This news is anticipated to be well received in the Commonwealth due to the current hype surrounding the UCI World Championships which are coming to Richmond in September. In addition, according to the League of American Bicyclists, Virginia is ranked high among the top bike friendly states, coming in at the 13th spot for 20015. “Enthusiasm for biking in Virginia is at an all-time high as the final preparations for the championships are underway. AAA is thrilled to join the celebration by debuting bike service at this exciting time for the cycling community,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
AAA believes that rescuing bicyclists is a logical next step for the organization that has been promoting bike and pedestrian safety for as long as it has been aiding stranded motorists. “Extending our legendary roadside service to bicycles is a natural extension of who we are as AAA: a roadside assistance provider that helps get people moving again,” says Berni Koch, CEO of AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Our service gives bicyclists peace of mind when they travel and someone to call if they break down. We want all those who share the roads to be safe and mobile.”
About AAA Mid-Atlantic’s bicycle coverage:
- Member roadside assistance calls can be used for bicycles or automobiles. Members receive four service calls per year, per person with their membership (five for Premier level). A bicycle call will count as one of those service calls.
- Bicycle roadside assistance service is included in all levels of AAA Mid-Atlantic membership – at no extra cost. Roadside assistance does not include repair.
- AAA will transport a bicyclist, bicycle and any accompanying minors due to bicycle disablement (transportation not included for rider fatigue or physical inability to continue riding) and transport the cyclist to a safe location or home. Cyclists must remain with their bicycles. If AAA cannot accommodate all passengers, we will assist members in obtaining alternate transportation at their own expense.
- Bicycle towing mileage mirrors vehicle towing mileage:
3 miles for Basic AAA membership
100 miles for Plus AAA membership*
200 miles for Premier AAA membership
*Motorcycle coverage is provided with the AAA Plus / RV Rider Membership.
- Service will be provided if cyclists can safely move their bicycle to a normally traveled road.
- What type of bicycles? Non-motorized bicycles. Excluded are bicycle taxis or bicycles used for commercial transportation.
- Just like with vehicle roadside assistance, cyclists should show a valid AAA membership card, either hard copy or on the AAA mobile app or Passbook app, as long as the cyclist has another form of identification.
- Because the ownership of the bicycle cannot be verified, AAA Mid-Atlantic will not service bicycles secured with a lock for which the member has no key or combination.
- AAA Mid-Atlantic serves Members in Delaware, Maryland and Washington, DC and parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia. To see the full list of counties covered please visit: AAA Mid-Atlantic territories.
- What’s the phone number to call for help? 1-800-AAA-HELP
Even before the new service’s official public launch, Mr. Mike Kanney, became the first member in the association’s five-state territory to be rescued while riding in Virginia. For both Mr. Kanney and AAA, the outcome of the very first bike service was positive. “I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere and deep appreciation for AAA’s new bicycle service. In early May while riding in New Kent VA, I had a flat tire and remembered information about AAA’s new bicycle service when I recently renewed my membership. Let me say it was fast and expeditious and I was really astonished to find out that I was the first customer!” Mr. Kanney followed his rescue using AAA’s mobile app. “Another amazing thing was the mobile app which allowed me to track the driver’s whereabouts immediately upon dispatch. In all I’d like to say that I received amazing bicycle service which was consistent with AAA’s amazing roadside service!”
The bicycle community is also reacting positively with news of the inclusion of bike coverage for AAA members. According to Bill Agee, co-owner of Agee’s Bicycles, which has been doing business in Richmond since 1910, “This is an exciting announcement from AAA! It gives families a safety net when they venture out for their cycling activities, and it shows just how much cycling has become an important part of the Richmond area lifestyle.”
AAA has been involved in bike safety for close to 100 years through educational programs and outreach efforts. In conjunction with National Bike Month, the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education, a non-profit affiliate of AAA Mid-Atlantic, gave away nearly 200 helmets during six bicycle safety programs at YMCA Afterschool Program sites. ( Baker Elementary School, Mehfoud Elementary School, Seven Pines Elementary School, Adams Elementary School, Highland Springs Elementary School, and the Chickahominy YMCA) The safety programs included helmet use education, helmet fittings, proper biking attire, and bike path safety.
AAA advises bicyclists to follow these safety tips:
Be Alert Scan ahead, center, left and right.
Be Wary Pay attention to vehicles, pedestrians and others on the road.
Be Seen Use your horn, hand signals and light to be seen by others on the road.
- Wear your helmet. Follow this simple rule and you reduce your risk of serious injury by as much as 85 percent.
- Keep your head up and look ahead, not at the ground. You need to see what is coming up so you have time to react and maneuver.
- One person per bike. Riding with unsecured passengers puts you at risk for injury to yourself and others.
- Ride in single file with space between bikes.
- Ride on the right side of the road, never against traffic. Otherwise, you are at risk for an accident – or a ticket.
- Plan ahead if you will ride in a group. Agree on the route ahead of time. Have a plan on what you will do if separated by traffic.
- If you will be riding in an unfamiliar area, check out local laws and rules first.
- Avoid busy roads and peak traffic times on your route.
- Before riding at night, ask someone to help you check your visibility to motorists.
- Maintain the bikes in your household. Keep chains clean and lubricated and periodically inspect brake pads.
- The new bicycle service covers the almost 837,000 AAA members in Virginia and a total of almost 4 million AAA members throughout the Mid-Atlantic region who carry Basic, Plus or Premier AAA memberships.
Follow the social media buzz on AAA’s bike launch @AAAVANews #AAABikes.
The Mid-Atlantic region includes the majority of Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia and parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. AAA is a federation of motor clubs and each motor club may offer different services to members. For specifics on the Mid-Atlantic coverage area, see AAA.com/Bicycle.