Mariposa Life

Debbie Croft: It’s the season for bicycling fun and safety

Bicyclists ride along on the Yosemite Valley floor with Half Dome in the distance in 2014. Make sure you wear a helmet when you ride and remember bicycle safety tips.
Bicyclists ride along on the Yosemite Valley floor with Half Dome in the distance in 2014. Make sure you wear a helmet when you ride and remember bicycle safety tips. Fresno Bee file

The gorgeous weather of spring and early summer, after winter’s fog, lures Central Valley residents outdoors for so many reasons.

Folks are jogging, playing or barbecuing at neighborhood parks, boating and fishing (while there’s still some water in our lakes and rivers), hiking in Yosemite, and bicycling up and down our mountain roads.

As a teen I remember the thrill of staying upright in a semi-straight line, riding with no hands! Kids ride bikes to school. Some cyclists ride to work and back to save on gas. Some hop on a bicycle for health reasons or just for fun. May was National Bike Month, but every time you ride, it makes good sense to wear a helmet and remember bicycle safety tips.

From the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, cyclists can be “Roll Models” by remaining focused on riding and driving – never allowing distractions; riding and driving prepared, and always expecting the unexpected; putting safety first, no matter what your age or skill level; and following the rules of the road. Bicyclists are considered vehicles, with the same rights and responsibilities.

According to AAA, the bicycle safety fundamentals are: “Be alert. Be wary. Be seen.” Share the road, respect other drivers and cyclists, and treat them with the courtesy you expect.

Three years ago, a Bakersfield woman died from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident outside Mariposa. In 2012, more than 700 bicyclists lost their lives nationwide; of that number, 124 deaths happened in California. And across the country, an estimated 48,000 riders were injured while on a bicycle.

National highway traffic safety statistics note that every eight minutes a pedestrian-related injury occurs. Many of these injuries and fatalities happen between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. as twilight descends and visibility decreases.

Almost 5,000 pedestrians die each year in accidents that might have been prevented. Too many people are fatally struck by a car while jogging or cycling, because drivers don’t see them.

4id is a company that offers LED safety bands. This remarkable item has been featured in Women’s Running magazine, at Parade.com, Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and several other online and print publications.

The 4id PowerSpurz slips over the heel of an athletic shoe. Last year on NBC’s Today show, it was featured as one of the best Father’s Day gadget gifts. Other safety bands are designed to fit on the arm or a backpack or baby stroller.

Safety lights can be a vital piece of equipment for increasing visibility but should not be used to replace a bike’s reflectors or lights.

“Just enhancement for added visibility,” says Rodger Bailey, vice president of sales for 4id.

Shelly Lotman-Fisher, CEO of 4id and Hope Paige Designs, came up with the idea for safety bands after visiting China. The streets were crowded with people wearing tiny lights.

Adrian Perez, a California Highway Patrol officer in Mariposa, says, “Lights or reflectors on a bicycle are required to have the same layout as a car. This lets everyone on the road know what they’re looking at.”

The California Vehicle Code 21201 states, “A white light is required to the front, and a red reflector is required to the rear, as well as amber reflectors to the sides and on the pedals. The only vehicles on the road allowed to have forward facing red lights are emergency vehicles (police, fire, and ambulance).”

This applies for bicycles as well. Law enforcement officers will watch cyclists for unsafe behavior.

“Visibility at night is a good thing. We want riders to be as safe as they can, and visible to traffic,” Perez concludes.

Visit www.nhtsa.gov, www.exchange.aaa.com, www.chp.ca.gov or stop by your local California Highway Patrol office for more information.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothills communities. Follow her on Twitter @ghostowngal or connect by email at composed@tds.net

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