By Elvia Kelly, Fort Stewart Public AffairsJuly 14, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Whether you are a Soldier riding home after physical training, a child riding around the neighborhood, Family Member riding for the day’s workout or even a driver on the road, knowledge of bicycle safety is everyone’s business.
According to the IMCOM Safety Gram provided by Fort Stewart’s Safety Office, each year more than half a million bicyclists visit the hospital. Injuries can happen anytime and anywhere, including the streets of quiet neighborhoods, where the more serious crashes take place.
Though accidents can take place in neighborhoods, severe accidents can also occur on roads.
According to the 2009 Traffic Safety Facts from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 51,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic, 630 bicyclists died on U.S. roads and 72 percent of bicyclist fatalities were killed during the daytime between the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 p.m., a six percent increase from last year.
For bicyclist Spc. Michael Adams, DHHB, 3rd Infantry Division, a main concern is falling off his bicycle.
“There are not a lot of areas designated for bicyclists except for the main road,” he said. “So, be aware of drivers because there are more drivers than there are bicyclists. The three-to-four foot distant rule is important because you never know what could happen.”
Fort Stewart occupational health and safety specialist Chris McCormick states that a cyclist should ride on streets whose outside lane is so wide that it can easily fit a car and a bike side-by-side.
“That way a car may pass by you and avoid hitting you, even if they didn't see you,” he said. “Even if it is legal, GA Highways 144E, 144W and 119N are not a good choice when deciding where to ride your bicycle. There is not enough room for a vehicle to safely pass a cyclist with oncoming traffic. The lack of space and the speeds of the vehicles could be disastrous for the cyclist.”
The following are traffic rules for bicyclists on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield:
• Bicyclists are required to obey all traffic laws in accordance with Georgia Vehicle Code.
• Bicyclists will move with the flow of traffic and not impede the operation of motor vehicles. Bicycles will use a path or sidewalk when present or, when ridden upon the roadway, bicycles will be in single-file.
• A bicycle being operated at night will be equipped with a working headlight, taillight, and reflectors, which are visible to 300 feet.
• Riding double on a bicycle is prohibited with the exception of a tandem built bicycle.
• All personnel riding bicycles, including children riding in child carriers, must wear a properly fastened and approved helmet.
For bicycle safety, follow these tips:
• Before using your bike, make sure it is ready. Always inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly.
• Wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet.
• Remember not all bikes fits all. Adjust your bicycle to fit. There should be one to two inches between you and the top bar (road bike) and three to four inches (mountain bike).
• See and be seen. Whether day or night, you need to be seen by others. Wear neon or any other bright color and wear something that reflects light.
For driver safety, follow these tips:
• Look before you open your door. Don’t rely on your rearview mirrors " turn your head to look.
• Make sure there is at least four feet between you and the bicyclists.
• Lay off the horn, unless they are in immediate danger. Cars are loud; cyclists can hear you coming.
As a bike enthusiast, knowledge of bicycle safety is crucial. My bike accident would have been categorized as a “neighborhood bicycle accident” back in late 1990s. I was a school-aged girl who pretended my bicycle was a horse. My “horse” galloped, in which I fell off my bicycle. My bike fell on my chest and my body went into shock. My respiratory airways closed, and I could not breathe. My father was nearby, and he performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation otherwise known as CPR.
Bicycle accidents can happen anytime, anywhere for whatever reason. These safety tips are available so that a cyclist is that much aware and that much safer.
On that note, McCormick offers one final tip of reaction time for drivers and cyclists for the Stewart-Hunter community.
“Try to ride on streets with low speed limits,” McCormick said. “The slower a car is going, the more time the driver has to see you and to react to you.”
For more information, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.