CINCINNATI, OH (May 1, 2020) – Ohio’s stay-at-home order has residents homebound and schools closed through the rest of the school year. However, people are allowed to engage in outdoor activities, as long as proper social distancing is practiced.
This new reality finds individuals, children, parents and families dusting off bicycles and lacing up walking shoes to head outside for fresh air and exercise. It is important for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to review proper safety tips and take necessary precautions to make these outdoor activities as safe as possible, according to AAA, Hamilton County Safe Communities Coalition and Tri-State Trails.
Nationally, there were 857 bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018, a more than six percent increase from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“Spring is here and bicycles are back, more than ever, especially with schools closed and Ohio residents under stay at home orders,” says Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “Outdoor exercise is permitted at this time, making bike riding an option for many while practicing proper social distancing. AAA urges all drivers out on essential errands and bicyclists to share the road responsibly and review basic safety tips to avoid injury.”
Tips for Essential Travel by Car:
- Stay Alert: Avoid all distractions while driving.
- Yield to bicyclists when turning.
- Obey the speed limit, reduce speed for road conditions and drive defensively to avoid a crash with a cyclist.
- Make a visual check for bicyclists by scanning mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
- Slow down and give at least three feet of clearance while passing—it’s the law in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
- Never honk your horn at a bicyclist—it could cause them to swerve into traffic or off the roadway and crash.
Bike Safety Reminders
- Always wear a helmet. Helmets protect cyclists from injuries related to falls, collisions and crashes. Properly fitted helmets are an important safeguard against brain injuries, the most common cause of bicycle-related fatalities. For guidance on fitting a helmet, see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fitting Your Bike Helmet.
- Maintain your bike. Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that the brakes work.
- Make yourself visible. No matter the time of day, make yourself visible to others. Wear neon, fluorescent or other bright colors when riding, to be most easily seen. Wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.
- Look for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash.
- Obey traffic laws. A bicycle is a vehicle and you’re the driver. You may ride in the traffic lane, even if bicycle lanes or a multi-use trail is present. When you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
- Use verbal and non-verbal communication. This includes eye contact with drivers, turn signals, pointing to road hazards for bicyclists behind you, and stating “passing on your left,” or “on your left.” Your bike should be equipped with a bell or horn to alert other cyclists, pedestrians and motorists of your presence.
- Be predictable. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars. Signal your moves to others.
- Look before turning. When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, and then signal before making the turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.
- Children should not ride alone. Children younger than 10 years old are not able to make necessary safely decisions and should ride with an adult. Utilize safer routes such as sidewalks when available.
Everyone is a pedestrian at some point in the day. Unfortunately pedestrian fatalities remain high. In 2018, there were 6,283 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes, a three percent increase from the previous year and the most since 1990, according to NHTSA.
“More people take to the sidewalks and streets, we are all responsible for making safety a priority,” noted Moore. “Pedestrians and drivers alike should remain alert and be aware of each other’s movements on the roadways.”
Pedestrian Safety Reminders
- Walk on sidewalks whenever possible.
- If no sidewalk is available, you must walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic (Pennsylvania law).
- Cross at crosswalks. Keep to the right in the crosswalk.
- Look both ways before crossing the street.
- At signalized intersections, cross only on the proper signal.
- Avoid crossing the street between parked cars.
- Watch for cars. Be sure that the way is clear before you start crossing. Continue looking and checking while crossing.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
- Motorists must yield to pedestrians crossing the street at marked and unmarked intersections BUT the pedestrian must either be within the crosswalk or affirmatively indicate an intent to cross (Pennsylvania law).
- Wear or carry retro-reflective material or carry a flashlight at night to help drivers see you.
- Avoid distractions. Limit phone use, loud music, and other distractions while walking.
AAA offers bicycle roadside assistance as part of its legendary service. Members do not need to do anything - the bicycle coverage is now automatically embedded into each current level of membership.
About AAA’s bicycle coverage:
- Member roadside assistance calls can be used for bicycles or automobiles. A bicycle call will count as a service call.
- AAA will transport a bicycle (transportation not included for rider fatigue or physical inability to continue riding) to a safe location or home. Cyclists must remain with their bicycles
- Bicycle towing mileage mirrors vehicle towing mileage:
- 3 miles for Basic AAA membership
- 100 miles for Plus AAA membership*
- 200 miles for Premier AAA membership
- *Motorcycle coverage is provided with the AAA Plus / RV Rider Membership.
- Service will be provided if cyclists can safely move their bicycle to a normally traveled road.
- Just like with vehicle roadside assistance, cyclists should show a valid AAA membership card, either hard copy or on the AAA mobile app, as long as the cyclist has another form of identification.
- Because the ownership of the bicycle cannot be verified, AAA will not service bicycles secured with a lock for which the member has no key or combination.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and nearly two and a half million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.
For more information, visit www.AAA.com