Bicycle safety important throughout semester

Kaitlyn Doane

Whether you live on or off campus, it is important to know proper riding etiquette on the roads for the safety of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

The weather is still warm and many students are taking advantage of the weather and using their bikes.

Riding a bike is a fast, environmentally friendly way to get around to your destination and personally one of my favorite modes of transportation, but it can also be dangerous if you are being careless.

Wear a helmet even though it is not required by law. They are pretty cheap and they can save your life if you end up in a collision with a car or even another biker.

The City of Marquette website states that two-thirds of all biking deaths are caused by traumatic brain injury which can be prevented by wearing a helmet.

Always make sure your helmet fits properly. You want it so the helmet doesn’t slip around while on your head, but not so tight that you cannot move. You should be able to fit one to two fingers between the chin strap and your chin. Even if you think it looks dumb, or “uncool” it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

It is important that while you are biking you share the roads with drivers. Bikers are meant to stay to the right side of the lane, following traffic, or to stay in the provided lanes if the road is marked with a bike path. Drivers should always be cautious around bikers and also share the roads, because bikers are legally allowed to use the roads as long as they follow regulations.

According to Sec. 660a of the Michigan Vehicle Code (MVC), “A person operating a bicycle upon a highway or street at less than the existing speed of traffic shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway,” with some exceptions, such as when an individual is passing another biker or is turning left.

Following the law keeps both cyclists and drivers safe. Section 660b of the MVC states: “Two or more individuals operating bicycles upon a highway or street shall not ride more than two abreast except upon a path or portion of the highway or street set aside for the use of bicycles.” However, bike lanes are meant for bikers and bikers only. If you are walking or roller blading, make use of the sidewalks provided in most locations around Marquette.

Whenever I am a pedestrian or biker, I always complain about cars disregarding the rules and often not thinking twice about crosswalks, but it works both ways. If I am driving, I tend to complain about people thinking they own the roads by jaywalking or not paying attention to cars around them. This kind of attitude makes individuals prone to cause an accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2010 there were roughly 52,000 biking injuries in the US, 618 of which were fatal.

It is important that as a driver you know when it is appropriate to stop and allow pedestrians to cross, as it is important for pedestrians to know when to cross without endagering themselves.

According to Marquette Police, on Sept. 1 a 22-year-old was involved in a hit and run situation. Accidents do happen, and knowing what precautions to take can be the difference between life and death.

When turning or stopping, be sure to use correct hand signals to ensure that the drivers around you, or even pedestrians, know where you are going. If you are turning left, hold out your left arm and vise versa for right. If you are coming to a stop, hold out your left arm at a 90 degree angle with your hand down.

As the MVC makes clear in Sec. 660c, “an individual operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or a pedestrian crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.”

Cyclists should also know when to ride on the roadway and when it is legal to ride on the sidewalk. On Third Street, it is illegal for a cyclist to ride on the sidewalk. The street is the appropriate place.

Cyclists and pedestrians always have the right of way when crossing a crosswalk, and cars should come to a complete stop to ensure that they do not hit a pedestrian.

If you are a driver turning right on a red light, the pedestrian crossing in the adjacent lane has priority over your car.

When riding in the dark, it is required for you to have a white front light and a red light or reflector on the back to ensure that you are visible while riding the roads. Make sure that you wear light colored clothing so you can stand out in the dark environment.

If you are just biking around town for fun, it would be a great idea to make use of the roughly 17 miles of bike trails that are around the Marquette area. Some of the paths run right along the lakeshore. These paths are used by many, so be sure to watch out for one another.

Biking is a great mode of transportation for all ages and doubles as a way to get some exercise in. With so many cyclists and drivers sharing the road, it is important to know the law and protect yourself this fall.