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Car Accidents and Bicycles

The Franklin County Traffic Safety Board in Northern New York and is a group of concerned residents of Franklin County that meet monthly in order to discuss traffic concerns and solutions.  Members who serve on the Traffic Safety Board are required to be residents of Franklin County and are appointed for three-year terms. They are not compensated for service to the Board and attendance at all meetings is voluntary.

Our friend, Dave Werner has been on the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board for a very long time.  He has one of the most curious minds you’ll ever see.  He is associated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a local weather observer.  If you read the Telegram, each month he presents statistical information about the weather and climate in our area.  He also writes a regular piece in the papers on Traffic Safety.

This month, I thought it would be a service to post his most recent article — what with the weather getting warmer — on bicycle and car safety:

Did you know: Biking season is here – things cyclists and drivers should know this spring
Franklin County Traffic Safety Board
Apr 27, 2020

The COVID-19 virus has put the world in turmoil, with exercise and social distancing both being necessary. Bicycling can accomplish both at the same time. But bicycling (and pedestrian) fatalities have been on the rise nationally for the past decade.

Last week’s DYK article was about the National Transportation Safety Board’s call for a major policy overhaul to combat the rise in bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles. Today we shall review some of the applicable laws and safety issues.

First, and most important, bicycles, by law, have just as much right to use our streets and roads as do motor vehicles. However, cyclists are also required by law to obey the same laws that apply to drivers, like stopping for pedestrians in a crosswalk and obeying all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings. This includes stopping for stop signs and red traffic signals, which an incredible number of cyclists seem to ignore.

The law requires bicyclists to use hand signals for turns or lane changes. They must have a bell or horn audible for 100 feet. If they ride at night, they must have a white front headlight visible for at least 500 feet and a red taillight visible for at least 300 feet.

LED technology is readily available for cyclists and is very important to their safety. Riding with a red rear LED light on “flashing” mode during the daytime increases the safety of the cyclist. If visibility is an issue, putting your headlight on flash is another safety idea. These lights get the attention of motorists coming from behind and certify the presence to oncoming drivers as well. Flashing lights on bicycles, as opposed to vehicles, are allowed because a bicycle is not a “motor vehicle”. High visibility clothing is also important for the safety of the bicyclist.

The law also requires bicyclists less than 14 years old to wear a certified bike helmet. A parent who permits his or her child to violate this helmet law is subject to a fine of up to $50. For safety reasons, all bicyclists should wear helmets. Adults should set the example because children learn from what they see.

Children 1 to 4 years old carried on a bicycle as a passenger must wear a certified bicycle helmet AND ride in a child safety seat. Children less than one are prohibited from being transported on a bicycle.

Now for motorists – there are some things you need to know about how to share the road with bicyclists. First, remember (I know I’m repeating this, but for a good reason) that bicyclists have just as much right to use the street or road as you do. Respect them, and give them space. Any collision between a bicyclist and a motor vehicle will result in the motor vehicle winning. When approaching a bicyclist from behind, move over into the oncoming lane if no vehicles are approaching. It’s permissible to cross even a double solid line to pass a bicyclist, provided it is safe to do so. If there are approaching vehicles, move as far to the left of your lane as possible and slow down! Section 1122-a of Vehicle and Traffic Law requires the driver of a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of a roadway to pass to the left of such bicycle “at a safe distance until safely clear thereof.”

So let’s be courteous and share the road, motorists and bicyclists. Now get out there, get your daily exercise and enjoy your bike ride.

–Dave Werner

Our thanks to Dave Werner.  As you know, we handle car accidents and bike accidents and motorcycle accidents all throughout Northern New York including Canton, Gouverneur, Potsdam, Ogdensburg, Malone, Chateaugay, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Ellenburg, Plattsburgh and all points between.  We hope that you keep your spring not only save from the Coronavirus, but also on the roads!

Tom Grue, Steve Vanier, Luke Babbie, Joe Nichols


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