May is National Bicycle Safety Month: DMV urges motorists to share the road

dmv virginiaAs part of National Bicycle Safety Month, the Virginia DMV urges bicyclists and drivers alike to respect the rules of the road – and fellow road users.

“Recent DMV statistics illustrate the importance of bicycle safety with more than 600 bicyclists injured last year. The number of bicyclists killed in Virginia crashes increased 30 percent, from 10 fatalities in 2016 to 13 in 2017,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “One way bicyclists can increase their safety is by always wearing a proper-fitting helmet and teaching their children to wear one as well. Like seat belts in cars, a helmet can save your life in a crash.”

“We all have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road and travel with respect to our fellow citizens,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same right of way as motor vehicles, but, since they are small, they can be harder to spot. That’s just one more reason why it is so important to stay focused behind the wheel. Bicyclists can also maximize their visibility by wearing brightly colored clothing and, at night, using a headlight and reflectors.”

Motorists should be on the lookout for bicycles on any public road. When passing a bicyclist, motor vehicles must proceed at a reasonable speed and travel at least three feet to the left of the overtaken bicycle. Drivers may cross double yellow lines to pass a bicyclist if such movement can be made safely. Motorists should also be aware of bicyclists as they enter or exit a vehicle parked along a roadway.

“Dooring” occurs when a driver or passenger opens a vehicle door in the path of an oncoming cyclist. The impact can seriously injure or kill a bicyclist.

Here are some tips for safe cycling:

  • Ride with traffic.
  • Stop and look both ways before entering the street and stop at all intersections.
  • Use hand signals and look all ways before turning.
  • Ride defensively; anticipate the actions of other road users and watch for road hazards.
  • Pass vehicles with extreme care; turning vehicles may not see you.
  • Be aware of motor vehicle blind spots while riding or when stopped at an intersection.
  • Walk your bicycle when you get into traffic situations beyond your cycling abilities.
  • Exercise great caution when riding in bus traffic; watch out for buses pulling to and from curbs and passengers getting on and off buses.
  • Wear a helmet, brightly colored clothing and secure loose pant legs.
  • Wear reflective clothing and apply reflective tape to your bicycle to maximize visibility at night.

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