May is National Bike Month
With spring’s warm weather finally upon us, more people can be seen enjoying it by walking, running and biking. Biking is much more than just a recreational activity; it is a means for people to commute for work, access mass transit, get to school and move around their community. Cycling is also good for the environment, as it reduces vehicle congestion and emissions and provides health benefits. To celebrate and recognize all that bicycling offers, the League of American Bicyclists has designated May as National Bike Month.
In Connecticut, there are ten communities recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as Bicycle Friendly, the list of which can be found on the League’s website here. What does it mean to be a designated Bicycle Friendly Community? It means that these municipalities have focused on making cycling better by way of bicycle laws and ordinances, education, bicycle infrastructure and active bicycle advocacy in their community.
As cycling becomes more prevalent and communities strive to keep up with the demand, safety must be at the forefront. Educating both cyclists and drivers on safe behavior and the rules of the road can go a long way in improving safety on our roads. Watch for Me CT has many resources and valuable tips to assist communities with bicycle education. You can find these on their website at https://watchformect.org/bicyclists/.
Another way to ensure safety is through bicycle infrastructure. Of the over 840 fatal cyclist crashes in 2019, sixty-five percent occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways. By providing bicycle infrastructure such as bike lanes, shared-use paths, applicable pavement markings such as sharrows, signage and bike signals, towns and cities improve bicycle safety. These measures improve safety for other users as well. When a designated bike lane is present, cyclists are less likely to ride on the sidewalk and impact pedestrians. Where proper signage and pavement markings are installed, vehicle drivers are made aware of the presence of cyclists and can adjust their driving behavior accordingly rather than being surprised by the presence of a cyclist.
Now is the time to start to think about where improvements can be made on your roads. In 2019, the highest percentage of bicycle fatalities occurred in July and August. As municipalities repave roads, consideration can be given to decreasing lane widths to add bike lanes, adjusting pavement markings or adding sharrows. To see some local examples of bicycle infrastructure and get some ideas of what you can do in your community, visit the T2 Center’s website.
For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at firstname.lastname@example.org.