May Is Bicycle Safety Month!
Warmer weather encourages people to be more active outdoors. In the coming weeks, more and more bicycles will be sharing the road with motorists. May is Bicycle Safety Month, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol encourages motorists and bicyclists to stay alert and be courteous. Preliminary statistics for 2020 indicate eight people were killed and 369 injured in 437 traffic crashes involving a bicycle. Please know the law regarding operating a bicycle and be a safe rider.
A bicyclist is required to ride as near the right side of the roadway as is safe, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction; except when making a left turn, when the lane is too narrow to share with another vehicle, or when on a one-way street. Bicyclists may ride abreast when not impeding other vehicles. Bicyclists must also obey all traffic signals and signs, the same as required of drivers of other vehicles. Use hand signals to let others know you will turn left, right, or stop.
A bicycle must be equipped with a brake or brakes that will enable its driver to stop the bicycle within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.
Bicycle riders, when riding upon a street or highway, are granted all the rights and are subject to all the traffic regulations applicable to drivers of motor vehicles, except those that by their very nature do not apply.
When riding your bicycle, follow these important safety tips:
* Make sure your bicycle is in good working condition. Check it before each ride.
* Although not required by state law, wearing a bicycle helmet while riding is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself. Be sure your helmet is the proper size, and adjust the straps for a snug fit.
* Never carry passengers.
* Walk your bike across busy intersections.
* Don’t hitch rides on other vehicles.
* Give pedestrians the right-of-way.
* Use a horn or bell to warn those who may not see you.
* Don’t perform stunts on streets or sidewalks.
* Keep both hands on the handlebars except when signaling.
* Wear light-colored or reflective clothing when riding after dark.
* Keep your bicycle in good condition.
* Always ride with caution and courtesy.
* When riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and give audible signals before overtaking or passing a pedestrian.
It is important that bicyclists understand local ordinances regarding riding a bicycle. For instance, in some municipalities, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in a business district is prohibited.
When riding a bicycle after dark, the bicycles must have the following:
* A white light mounted to the front of the bicycle or carried by the rider which is visible at 500 feet.
* A rear-facing red reflector of at least two square inches or a red lamp which is visible at 600 feet.
* Reflective material and/or lights visible from the front and rear on any moving part of the bicycle’s pedals or crank arms, or the bicyclist’s shoes or lower legs, which can be seen at 200 feet.
* Reflective material and/or lights on each side of the bicycle or bicyclist visible at 300 feet.
Penalties for violations of this law range from not less than $5 to not more than $25 for people 17 years of age or older. For those under 17, a provision allows an officer witnessing a violation to impound the bicycle for a period not to exceed five days.
Please pay attention whether you're driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle. Understand and obey the law and keep safety in mind. Reviewing bicycle safety guidelines and traffic laws is a great way to prepare for bicycling season.
Too many people die in traffic crashes each year in Missouri. The choices you make when you’re behind the wheel matter. Make good choices, so you’ll never have to say, “If I could just go back …”
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