Can you believe we’re already halfway through the summer? I hope you’re finding some time to get out on your bicycle, or maybe enjoy some evening strolls through your neighborhood to get some exercise.
While you are out enjoying the weather, be sure to walk or bike safely. Even though we enjoy a slower pace of life here in Ukiah, drivers do not always slow down and we have had a number of collisions involving bikes and pedestrians during the past few years. Whether you’re behind the wheel or getting some exercise, we all need to do what we can to prevent these types of accidents from occurring.
Most experienced cyclists will tell you they ride defensively, because no matter how right they are, a motorist in the wrong can still injure or kill them. While recent research indicates that helmets reduce the risk of head injuries for cyclists by 63 to 88 percent, the best way to avoid injury is to avoid accidents altogether. So my advice? Wear your helmet!
If you’re a motorist, think of bikes as cars without safety features—no seat belts or crumple zones, no air bags, nothing between the person and the road (except maybe a bike helmet), so give them a little extra leeway to help ensure their safety.
Sharing the road with a cyclist is simple:
Allow extra space when passing bicyclists. If possible, give a bicyclist at least 3-4 feet of space when passing.
Slow down. Reduce your speed when approaching and passing a bike.
Keep your eyes open. Bikes can be hard to see, especially in your blind spots. Please pay special attention when driving through intersections and parking.
Be extra cautious around kids on bikes. Expect the unexpected when you see a kid on a bike. Slow down and give them as much room as you safely can.
For great tips on safe cycling, check out www.bicyclesafe.com. The article titled, “How to Not Get Hit by Cars” reviews ten collision scenarios and how to avoid them. The article points out that wearing a helmet is a fantastic idea; it can save your life, but it doesn’t prevent you from being hit. If you or your loved ones ride bicycles on the road, please wear your helmet and bright clothes, follow the rules of the road, and ride defensively.
If your kids are out driving, riding a bike or even walking, a great resource to teach kids about traffic safety is: www.justdrivepa.org/Traffic-Safety-Information-Center/.
We all know there are times when our kids would rather get information from their friends than us, even though that information might be inaccurate. So here are some facts to correct common myths:
Myth 1 – A green light means it is safe to cross the street.
Fact 1 – A green light means you should look for cars and only cross when it is safe. Continue looking for cars as you cross.
Myth 2 – You are safe in a crosswalk.
Fact 2 – Sometimes drivers can’t see you. The law requires cars to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk, but always make eye contact with drivers while you’re in a crosswalk to make sure they will stop for you.
Myth 3 – Drivers will stop if you’re in a crosswalk or at an intersection about to cross.
Fact 3 – Drivers can be distracted, their view may be blocked, or they may not see you. If you’re not sure you’ve been seen, stop and wait for the car to pass.
Myth 4 – It’s fine to wear headphones or talk on your cell phone while walking.
Fact 4 – Please put your phone and ear buds away, so you can see and HEAR what’s happening around you. Your life may depend upon it!
Have a great summer and please discuss these tips with your kids!
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey - Chief of Police