Bicycling is one of the best ways to get exercise, see the sights and reduce your carbon footprint. However, bicyclists face a host of hazards. They often must share the road with vehicles, and injuries can happen even on a designated path.
With about 80 million bicyclists sharing the road with motorized vehicles, it is vital bicyclists – and drivers – take some safety precautions.
How Can Drivers Keep Cyclists Safe?
The far hand reach, or Dutch reach, is a simple technique that will stop you and your passengers from opening your vehicle door in front of an oncoming vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian. This works for streets, sidewalks and parking lots. (Credit: National Safety Council https://www.nsc.org)
Bicycle Safety and the Far Hand Reach
This simple technique will stop you and your passengers from opening your door in front of an oncoming vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian. This works for streets, sidewalks and parking lots.
When drivers and passengers open a vehicle door from the inside to exit the vehicle, they should use their far hand (the hand farthest from the door) to open the door. As you reach across your body to the door handle, your body will naturally swivel, and you will automatically look at the side-view mirror and look back for oncoming bikes and traffic. Open the door slowly and remain vigilant.
Retired physician Michael Charney has spent nearly three years teaching people the far hand reach, also known as the Dutch Reach.
Tips for Cyclists and Motorists
- Wear a Helmet – Everyone age 12 and under must wear a helmet under Pennsylvania law, however all riders are strongly encouraged to wear a helmet when riding.
- Before Riding - Check Your Bike – Check your air pressure, brakes, and chains before riding.
- Be Visible – Wear brightly colored clothes, never weave in and out of traffic or parked cars, and use lights when riding at night. Be safe. Be smart. Be seen.
- Share the Road – As a motorist, it’s important to remember and respect that bicyclists are permitted by law to operate on roads. Motorists must give bicyclists a four-foot buffer when passing.
- Ride with Traffic – Ride on the right side of the road. Slower traffic should keep to the right. Bicyclists should also respect motorists, and by law, must make reasonable efforts to not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
- Sidewalks – Bicyclists are by law, not permitted to ride on sidewalks in business districts, or whenever a bike lane is available. However, when you must ride on the sidewalk, exercise caution and remember that pedestrians always have the right of way.
- Trails – Pedestrians have the right-of-way on bicycle paths. You must give an audible signal as you approach and pass a pedestrian.
- Obey All Traffic Laws – Bicyclists must obey all traffic signs and signals, and are subject to the same penalties and fines motorists are for failing to do so.
- Ride Alertly - Always be scanning for hazards and assume that motorists do not see you.
- Cross Carefully – When approaching an intersection, look left, look right, look left again, and then look over your shoulder be entering the intersection.
- Be Predictable – Always use caution when turning or merging with traffic, using the appropriate hand signals.
- Maintain Control of your Bike – Operate only in areas where you feel confident and never bike under the influence.
- Be Visible - Wear bright or light colored clothing and reflective materials.*
- Equipment - Carry a flashlight when walking at night.*
- Sidewalks - Always walk on a sidewalk or path. If there are none available, walk facing traffic, on the shoulder, as far away from traffic as possible.**
- Be Predictable - Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. *
- Cross Carefully – Look left, right, and left again before crossing a street.*
- Crosswalks - If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross. **
- Walk Alertly – Keep alert at all times. Don’t be distracted by electronic devices including radios, smart phones, and other devices that take your eyes and ears off the road. **
- Obey All Traffic Laws – Stay off of major highways and other pedestrian-prohibited roadways. **
- Walk with a friend whenever possible - Choose walking friends with a similar pace and preferences.
- Be Aware - Don't assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with drivers, don't just look at the vehicle. If a driver is on a cell phone, he or she may not be paying enough attention to drive safely.
*Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
**Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NHTSA)
Bike Repair Stations - Stations are located in Graham Park and North Boundary Park. Each sheltered station includes all the necessary tools to perform basic bike repairs and maintenance, from changing a flat to adjusting brakes and derailleurs. While making repairs, the bike hangs from arms which allow the pedals and wheels to spin freely. The repair stations were purchased through the Alcoa grant and Butler County Tourism.
Bike Racks - Fifteen bike racks are located on Township properties, thanks to a grant from Alcoa Foundation via Kawneer-Alcoa and a contribution from Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau.
Some bikeways are not appropriate for all riders as traffic and other conditions may require advanced riding skills. Discretion is advised. Parents are encouraged to accompany young children when riding.
Pennsylvania Law requires motorists to give bicyclists a four foot buffer when passing
To make a left turn; first safely merge to the middle of the lane. Turn when it is safe and legal to do so.
Where to Ride
To avoid hitting opening doors, it is recommended to ride at least four feet away from cars parked on the street.
What is a Shared Lane? (SLM) "sharrow" and what does it mean?
Though bicyclists are permitted on all roads, except for limited-access highways, a Shared Lane Marking (SLM) or “sharrow” is a marking on the road used to further specifically communicate that the road is to be shared by both motorists and bicyclists. Motorists should expect to see bicyclists in these zones and treat them like another vehicle. Markings may or may not be accompanied by “Share the Road” signs. Pennsylvania law states that whenever a motorist passes a bicyclist, the motorist must maintain at least four feet of space between the car and the bicyclist. The law also states that bicyclists must make reasonable efforts to not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.