Bikers, be safe!
I nearly hit a bicyclist last week, which left me pretty shaken up. I was driving east, waiting at the stop light at the corner of sixth and Market streets. Then the light turned green and just when my foot touched the gas, a bicyclist ran the red light going south and sped by as I slammed on the brakes. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack.
I NEARLY hit a bicyclist last week, which left me pretty shaken up. I was driving east, waiting at the stop light at the corner of sixth and Market streets. Then the light turned green and just when my foot touched the gas, a bicyclist ran the red light going south and sped by as I slammed on the brakes. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack.
For the record, I think it's great that Philadelphia is going green and is building infrastructure for bikes and cars to co-exist. Bicycling saves on fuel consumption, decreases pollution and is great exercise and recreation.
But, I do think we need a serious education campaign for many bikers. Aren't bicyclists obligated to obey the road rules? Aren't they supposed to follow the traffic laws, and, for instance, drive in the same direction as traffic, stop at red lights and stop signs, not turn abruptly into traffic and yield right-away to pedestrians?
Another thing that really upset me was, this guy wasn't even wearing a helmet. Not only did he violate traffic laws, he also foolishly rides without any protection.
As a minimum precaution we need to have a mandatory helmet law.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) approximately 1,000 people die annually from bicycle crashes, and head injuries account for about 70 percent of bicycle deaths. Another 550,000 bike riders end up in the ER annually.
Common sense and those statistics alone should be all the encouragement one needs to wear a bike helmet. Shouldn't we take bicycle-helmet safety as seriously as we do seat belts and child car seats? Why don't we have local, state and national laws requiring all to wear bike helmets?
Since Pennsylvania state law requires that bicycle helmets be used by all bicyclists below the age of 12, why not extend the law to everybody?
Perhaps these somber statistics from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will motivate some to change:
* Of those killed in bicycle accidents, 13 percent were children 14 years and younger.
* 43 is the average age of a cyclist in a fatal accident with an automobile.
* 88 percent of cyclists killed and 82 percent injured were males .
* Bicycle injuries and deaths cost an estimated $8 billion annually.
* Bicycle helmets reduce head and brain injuries by as much as 85 percent.
So, first and foremost, parents need to model good bicycling behavior and wear their helmets, too. Parents should also be prepared to teach traffic laws and commonsense rules about bike riding. Ultimately, all bicyclists need to obey traffic laws, if for no other reason than their personal safety.