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Editorial: Motorists, bikers must share the road safely

The arrival of springtime means a welcome return to outdoor activities. Some of the most popular among these involve hitting the road on two wheels.

But with the fun and excitement comes considerable danger. That’s why May is set aside as a time to remind people of the importance of bicycle and motorcycle safety.

It’s a message that needs to be heeded not just by the riders of two-wheelers but by those behind the wheel of cars and trucks as well.

It’s not always easy for everyone to share the road, but it’s essential. That’s especially true in our region, where so many people like to take their bikes out on country roads that often don’t even accommodate cars terribly well.
If you haven’t noticed some of the horrific crashes involving two-wheeled vehicles in our area, then take a look at the statistics. They make the danger clear.

There were 966 fatal accidents involving bicyclists in 2021, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. PennDOT says there were 24 in Pennsylvania alone that year. Both numbers represent increases over previous years, likely a reflection of the growing popularity of cycling since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Although motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles and 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled in the United States, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities, 17% of all occupant fatalities, and 3% of all occupant injuries in 2021. The NHTSA said there were nearly 6,000 motorcyclists killed on the road in 2021, including 226 in Pennsylvania.

This doesn’t mean people should give up their biking habits. Cycling is good exercise and benefits the environment when done in place of driving. And we certainly understand the thrill associated with riding a motorcycle.

The key is to engage in these activities safely.

“A large percentage of crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other,” said Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs, AAA East Central.

AAA and PennDOT offer the following tips for cyclist safety:

• Ride on the road or shared pathways, not sidewalks.

• Follow the same rules of the road as other roadway users, including riding in the same direction as traffic and following traffic signs and signals.

• Signal all turns.

• Wear a bicycle helmet on every ride. Nearly all bicyclists who died from a collision were not wearing helmets.

• Wear bright colors during the day, reflective gear in low light conditions, and use head and tail-lights at night.

• Show motorists the same courtesy that you expect from them.

Motorists sharing the road with bicyclists should watch for cyclists, especially when opening a car door or entering or leaving a lane of travel. Drivers should stay alert and avoid distractions, yield to bicycles when turning, reduce speed and give cyclists at least 3 feet of clearance while passing.

Many of the same safety tips for cyclists apply to motorcycle riders as well. The key is to move at a safe speed and ride defensively. And while wearing a helmet is not required, it is a very good idea to do so, as it often makes the difference between a survivable injury and a fatality.

Motorists need to take special care when it comes to sharing the road with motorcycles, especially this time of year when so many of the two-wheeled vehicles are out on the roads. Watch out for motorcycles, which are often difficult to see. Leave at least four seconds of distance between a motorcycle and your vehicle and always signal before changing lanes or merging.

Drivers must remember that a motorcycle is a full-size vehicle with the same rights and privileges as any vehicle on the roadway. Motorcyclists must remember that those rights come with the responsibility to follow the same rules of the road as cars and trucks.

Some of the best days of the year for two-wheel travel are upon us. Let’s all make sure that they leave behind memories of fun rather than heartbreak.

Source: Berkshire mont

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