Officials remind bikers, drivers to share NC roadways

Raleigh, NC - From the North Carolina Department of Transportation:

RALEIGH, NC - Warm spring temperatures draw people out of their house and onto the road for travel or recreation, raising the importance of sharing the street with fellow travelers -  whether they are pressing the gas pedal or the bike pedal.

According to North Carolina law, a bicycle is a vehicle, and bicyclists share the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers. National Bicycle Safety Month is recognized during May of each year, and the N.C. Department of Transportation takes this time to remind those traveling by both bicycle and motor vehicle to obey all traffic laws and use caution.

"Bicyclists and motorists share the road and need to travel responsibly," said Tom Norman, director of NCDOT's Bicycle and Pedestrian Division. "Safety is our top priority, and this month, we want to remind both groups to be alert on the roads at all times of the year."

More than 900 bicycle-motor vehicle crashes are reported to the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles each year. The majority of incidents occur between the months of May and September, and between the hours of 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. In 2009, there were 600 reported accidents between bicyclists and motor vehicles, resulting in 12 deaths.

NCDOT encourages bicyclists to follow these safety tips when riding on the road:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet;
  • Ride on the right-hand side of the road, in the same direction as other vehicles;
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals;
  • Properly signal all movements and make sure movements can be made safely;
  • Yield to drivers and pedestrians, as appropriate; and
  • When riding at dawn, dusk or night, use extra caution. Be sure to use a headlight visible from a distance of 300 feet and a red reflector visible at a distance of 200 feet, as well as wear reflective clothing.

NCDOT also urges motorists to follow these safety tips when encountering bicyclists:

  • Keep a lookout for oncoming bicyclists when turning left and wait for them to clear the intersection before completing your turn;
  • After passing a bicyclist on your right, take care not to cut them off by  immediately turning right in front of them;
  • Slow down when passing a bicyclist to make sure the rider is aware of your presence and leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the bicyclist;
  • Stay alert for bicyclists who suddenly swerve or turn in front of you; and
  • Yield to bicyclists, when appropriate, as you would for other motor vehicles.

For more information on bicycle safety, laws pertaining to the operation of a bicycle and bicycle crash facts, visit the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation's website.