Bicycling safety

Many of us are anxious to get back on our bicycles and get out of our homes, to walk down to the local café or roll along to our favorite shopping center. Safety advocates are encouraging all users of the roads – those who drive, walk and roll – to “Look out for each other.” When we pay attention to what is around us, we are better able to avoid tragedies that can result from interactions involving people driving, walking, riding and rolling.

“As communities continue to open up during the beautiful spring weather, I expect to see increases of people on our roads walking, riding, rolling and driving,” said Heidi Manlove, ODOT’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Program manager. “More people will be out all over the state, so I’m asking all our partners to spread the word: Look out for each other.”

From 2014 – 2018 in Oregon, 44 people bicycling were killed in crashes. Another 290 individuals suffered serious injuries. In most cases, those incidents were preventable – there may have been distraction, intoxication or high vehicle speeds involved, for example. And it’s quite likely those involved were not looking out for each other, ODOT said.

“The main way we can stay safe on the transportation system is to take personal responsibility for our behaviors and remember we are all in this together,” Manlove said. “Oregon’s goal is zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries, and watching out for each other is an effective step in the right direction.”

Safety is a key element of ODOT’s Strategic Action Plan. A modern transportation system that is safe for all users is one of the plan’s three priorities, and ODOT’s Safety Division work helps bring that about by funding education campaigns, extra enforcement and more.

Be prepared, be safe

People bicycling can use a handy field guide and bicycling manual from ODOT to get ready for a safe ride.

People driving are reminded that people on bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as people behind the wheel of a vehicle. When driving, you should:

• Yield to people bicycling as you would to people driving and do not underestimate their speed. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.

• Search your surroundings for bicycles when you are in parking lots, driveways, intersections, when backing up, or when parking.

• Stop completely and look left-right-left and behind before turning right on red and make sure you use your turn signal.

• Obey the speed limit and reduce speed for road conditions – especially in the early morning, dusk, nighttime, and when it is overcast and raining.

• When passing a person bicycling, allow at least 3 feet of safe passage distance to avoid contact with the rider. You can drive in an adjacent lane to pass if safe from oncoming traffic. If there is not enough room to give safe passage, slow down and wait to pass until it is safe to do so.

• The new Stop as Yield law allows a person bicycling to treat a stop sign and flashing red signal as a yield sign. They may slowly roll through if they have the right of way and obey all other traffic rules. Please see the video and brochure for more information.

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