Bicycling and walking are forms or low impact transportation and enjoyable types of exercise and recreation. They provide alternatives to motorized travel, provided that facilities and programs are in place to encourage and safely accommodate a diverse public.
Land use and transportation planning is key to establishing quality multi-modal service and to affording choices in transportation to community members. Thorough planning enables a community to become proactive rather than reactive in addressing concerns about bicyclist access, mobility, safety, and aesthetics. In the end, this can save time, money, and lives. Nationwide, communities are realizing they cannot build their way out of congestion. They must look to other solutions, such as transit, carpooling and bicycling. A healthy transportation system provides safe, convenient choices. Improving bicycling conditions provides alternatives for the increasing numbers of citizens who can’t afford, don’t want to or are physically unable to drive motor vehicles. The 5E’s to becoming Bicycle Friendly
Encouragement - Creating an environment that is conducive to more bicycle riding for fun, fitness and transportation. Education - An informed citizenry, knowledgeable police, legislators and public officials and better training for engineers and planners in facility design. Engineering - Creating a bicycle and pedestrian transportation system that allows users with varying abilities to safely and efficiently travel between destinations. Enforcement - Equitable and consistent enforcement of traffic laws affecting motorists and bicyclists.
Evaluation - Regular monitoring and performance evaluation of our progress toward becoming a bicycle-friendly community.
In communities across the world, there is a growing need and responsibility to provide options that give people the opportunity to bike—to bike more often, to bike to more places, and to feel safe while doing so. The benefits of riding a bicycle-whether for utilitarian or recreational purposes—can be expressed in terms of improved personal health, transportation options, environmental and energy conservation, economic rewards, and enhanced quality of life.
No matter what your experience with cycling is, riding a bike can be a great way to get healthy exercise. The issue of physical activity has never been more important than now. An alarming number of Americans are becoming more sedentary and obese and, consequently, are putting their lives at risk, reports the Center for Disease Control. Even small increases in light to moderate activity will produce measurable benefits among those who are least active. Engaging in light to moderate physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease,stroke, and other chronic and life-threatening illnesses. Physical activity can also improve mental health and even lower health care costs.
Older adults can also benefit from bicycling. Regular exercise provides myriad health benefits for senior adults including a stronger heart, a positive mental outlook, and an increased chance of remaining indefinitely independent- a benefit that will become increasingly important as our population ages in the coming years. Transportation
Many of the trips that Americans make every day are short enough to be accomplished on a bicycle. Approximately 40 percent of all trips are less than two miles in length-which represents about a 10-minute bike ride. Bicycling can help to reduce roadway congestion. Many streets and highways carry more traffic than they were designed to handle, resulting in gridlock, wasted time and energy, pollution, and driver frustration. Bicycling requires significantly less space per traveler than driving. Roadway improvements to accommodate bicyclists can also enhance safety for motorists. For example, adding paved shoulders on two-lane roads has been shown to reduce the frequency of run-off-road, head-on, and sideswipe motor vehicle crashes. Environmental/Energy
Motor vehicles create a substantial amount of air pollution. According to the EPA, transportation is responsible for nearly 80 percent of carbon monoxide and 55 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in the U.S. Although individual cars are much cleaner today than they were in earlier years, if total traffic continues to grow, overall air quality will deteriorate. Moreover, every day cars and trucks burn millions of barrels of oil, a non-renewable energy source. Switching motor vehicle trips over to bicycle trips is an easy way to reduce energy needs and pollution emissions from the transportation sector. Economic
Bicycling is an affordable form of transportation. Car ownership is expensive, and consumes a major portion of many Americans' income. When safe facilities are provided for bicyclists, people can ride more and spend less on transportation, meaning they have more money to save or spend on other things. Economic rewards both to the individual and to society are realized through reduced health care costs and reduced dependency on auto ownership (and the resulting insurance and maintenance costs). There are also other economic benefits of bicycling that are more difficult to measure, such as the increased economic vitality of communities that have emphasized bicycle mobility.
Quality of life
Better conditions for bicycling have intangible benefits to the quality of life in cities and towns. The number of people bicycling can be a good indicator of a community's livability-a factor that has a profound impact on attracting businesses and workers as well as tourism. Comfortable and connected bicycle environments offer alternatives to personal vehicles and increase opportunities for social contact with others. By providing appropriate bicycle and pedestrian facilities and amenities, communities enable the interaction between neighbors and other citizens that can strengthen relationships and contribute to a healthy sense of identity and place. Bikeable communities create a more equitable society that provides transportation choice for all citizens.
Traffic rules exist to improve everyone’s safety and are based on collective experience. Most crashes can be avoided if both bicyclists and motorists follow the rules of the road. MOTORISTS
Individual drivers can make the roads safer by driving at reasonable speeds, expecting and slowing for bicyclists and pedestrians, and leaving plenty of room when passing. Remember that if bicyclists and pedestrians were not out walking and riding, they would probably be out driving, creating more traffic congestion! BICYCLISTS
For bicyclists, safety depends more on how you ride rather than where. Many studies show that bicyclists who practice “Vehicular Cycling,” following the rules of the road and using front and rear lights starting at dusk, are statistically as safe as motorists and up to twenty times safer than bicyclists who don’t follow road rules or use lights. Following these rules makes the streets safe for everyone: Sharingthe Road with Bicycles: Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the streets that drivers do, and in most cases, they must share the lane. Bicycles are required to travel on the right hand side of the road with other traffic. Bicyclists are not allowed to travel facing traffic, since this is far less safe. They must ride as near to the right hand side of the road as practical, while avoiding road hazards that could cause them to swerve into traffic. When you’re sharing the road with bicycles, you should always expect the rider to make sudden moves. Trash, minor oil slicks, a pothole or crack in the concrete, a barking dog, a parked car or a car door opening, and other surprises can force a bicycle rider to swerve suddenly in front of you. Similarly, when cyclists are traveling past parked cars, they tend to move away from the cars, toward the center of the lane. This is to avoid injuring, or being injured by, persons getting out of those cars. In such cases, the bicyclist is operating the bicycle properly. If possible, give the cyclist the entire lane. When road conditions prevent this, pass the cyclist with extreme caution. Cyclists who are not on the extreme right hand side of the lane are not being careless, but are in fact attempting to account for traffic conditions and/or preparing to make a left turn. Bicycles are hard to see. The riders are exposed and easily injured in a collision. Oncoming bicycle traffic is often overlooked or its speed misjudged.
Safety Tips for Drivers: • The most common causes of collisions are drivers turning left in front of an oncoming bicycle or turning right, across the path of the bicycle.
• Drivers often fail to pick the bicyclist out of the traffic scene, or inaccurately judge the speed of cyclists making a left turn.
• Drivers overtaking a bicyclist, then making a right turning front of the cyclist is also a cause of many accidents. Look once, then again, make sure you see the cyclist and know his speed before you turn.
• Merge with bicycle traffic when preparing for a right turn. Don’t turn directly across the path of a bicyclist.
• Watch for bicycle riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling, especially if the rider is a child.
• Most bicyclists maintain eye contact with drivers of vehicles around them, particularly when the cyclist or vehicle is making a turn. Before turning, a driver should attempt to gain and maintain eye contact with the bicyclist to ensure a safer turn.
Allow plenty of room when passing a bicycle rider:
• A driver should NEVER attempt passing between a bicyclist and oncoming vehicles on a two-lane road. Slow down and allow vehicles to pass. Then move to the left to allow plenty of room to pass the rider safely. Leave at least three feet of space between your car and a cyclist when passing.
• NEVER pass a bicycle if the street is too narrow or you would force the bicyclist too close to parked vehicles. Wait until there is enough room to letyou pass safely.
• If you are about to pass a bicycle on a narrow road and you think the rider doesn’t know you’re coming, tap your horn gently and briefly as a signal that you’re going to pass. Don’t blast your horn or otherwise startle or try to intimidate the rider. Residential Areas Are Danger Zones:
Bicyclists may ride in the middle of the street and disregard stop signs and traffic signals. BE CAREFUL in all neighborhood areas where children and teenagers might be riding.
• Children riding bicycles create special problems for drivers. Children are not capable of proper judgment in determining traffic conditions, therefore drivers should be alert to the possibility of erratic movement and sudden changes in direction when children on bicycles are present.
• Watch out for bikes coming out from driveways or from behind parked cars or other obstructions.• Bicyclists riding at night present visibility problems for drivers. At night, watch the side of the road for bicyclists. Bicyclists are required to have proper illumination, a front light and rear reflector, but drivers should be aware that bicyclists are not easily seen. Lights from approaching traffic may make them even harder to see at night.
• If you see a bicyclist with a red or orange pennant flag on an antennae attached to the bike, slow down; this is a common symbol to indicate the rider has impaired hearing. Lane Positions for Bicycles:
Bicycle riders are required to ride as far right in the lane as possible only when a car and a bicycle, side by side, can safely share the lane. Even then, there are certain times when a bicycle can take the full lane. A bicyclist should be allowed full use of the lane when:
• The rider is overtaking and passing another vehicle going in the same direction.
• If the lane is marked and signed for bicycle use only, drivers must NEVER use that lane as a turning lane, passing lane or for parking.
• The bicyclist is getting in place for a left turn at an intersection orturning left into a private road or driveway.
• There are unsafe conditions in the roadway, such as parked cars, moving vehicles or machinery, fixed obstacles, pedestrians, animals, potholes or debris.
• The lane is too narrow for both a car and a bicycle to safely share the lane. In this case, it is safest to let the bicycle take the full lane.
Safety Tips for Bicyclists: •Always wear a helmet.
•Ride with the flow.
•Know rules/hazards of sidewalk cycling.
•Yield to traffic before entering or crossing a roadway.
•Yield to overtaking traffic before moving across one or more lanes.
•Come to a complete stop at every stop sign and red light.
•Ride in the farthest right lane that serves your destination.
•Signal turns and lane changes at least 50 feet in advance.
•Ride in the appropriate position in the lane you are using.
•Never ride at night without two things: a bright, white non-flashing headlight and red rear reflector.
•Maintain control of your bicycle always.
•Maintain your bike in good working order.
•Don't ride a bike if you've been drinking alcohol.
•Seek help from experienced cyclists.
• Stop and yield to cross traffic before entering a road from a driveway or sidewalk. Stop at stop signs. Stop when you have the red at traffic signals. Remember, you are the driver of a vehicle and have the same rights AND responsibilities as motorists.
• Be predictable and visible. A bicyclist should ride to the right so that other vehicles can pass, but the bicyclist should ride in a predictable straight line. Swerving left to avoid potholes, parked cars, broken glass and other hazards can surprise motorists who are attempting to pass. A bicyclist who stays too far to the right is less visible to drivers. Moving left when the lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to share helps motorists who might otherwise misjudge passing space.
• Ride with traffic. A bicyclist who rides facing oncoming traffic increases his/her risk of being hit by a motorist. Drivers entering and exiting the roadway at side streets and driveways do not expect bicyclists to approach from the wrong direction.
• Signal. Use arm signals to communicate turning or merging movements to other drivers. If you communicate with motorists they will likely cooperate with you.
• Wear a helmet. Your helmet is a lot like a seat belt. Wear it all the time as “insurance,” but then drive so safely that you never need that insurance.
• Lights on at dusk. Use a white light on the front and we recommend a red light in the rear as well, whenever you ride at dusk or after dark. Reﬂectors are not enough. Motorists try to avoid hitting a cyclist they can see, but a bicycle without lights at night is nearly invisible. Headlights are not just used so that the bicyclist can see where he/she is going—the most important purpose of lights and reﬂectors is to let motorists know that the bicyclist is there.
Bicycling in cooperation with traﬃc and the law is an enjoyable experience with many health beneﬁts.
Teaching a Blind Student to Ride - As a cycling instructor for GetAbout Columbia, I was asked if I would be interested in teaching Gretchen — a woman who is blind — to ride a bicycle. Wit...
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