While driving dropped in 2020 due to the pandemic, bicycling and e-bikes gained in popularity – setting up a potentially dangerous combination of more cyclists on the road as driving returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Nationally, bicyclists killed in crashes with vehicles increased 36 percent from 2010 to 2018 with most of them occurring among male riders 20 years and older, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Additionally, more than 48,000 cyclists are injured in roadway crashes each year.
While driving was declining last year, bicycle and e-bike sales were rising, as well as the popularity of cycling as a socially-distanced means of travel and exercise. Between January and October 2020, bicycle sales increased 62% in the U.S. over the prior year, and e-bikes saw an even greater increase in sales – up 144% year over year, according to NPD group which monitors retail sales trends.
E-bikes (battery- and pedal-powered bikes) have exploded in popularity during the last year, posing additional risks for novice riders who may not realize how to safely operate them at the higher speeds they can travel.
“As more and more vehicles and bicycles return to the road, it’s extremely important that both motorists and cyclists use extra caution,” says Terri Rae Anthony, safety advisor, AAA East Central. “A large percentage of crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other.”
AAA East Central recommends the following tips to help drivers and cyclists share the road:
- Stay alert—avoid all distractions while driving.
- Yield to bicyclists when turning.
- In bad weather, give bicyclists extra passing room, just as you would other motorists.
- Make a visual check for bicyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
- Slow down and give at least 3 feet of clearance when passing.
- Reduce your speed when passing bicyclists, especially when the road is narrow.
- NEVER honk your horn at a bicyclist—it could cause them to swerve into traffic or off the roadway and crash.
- Always check for bicyclists before opening your car door.
- Children on bicycles are often unpredictable—expect the unexpected.
- Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than on sidewalks.
- Follow the same rules of the road as other roadway users, including riding in the same direction as traffic and following all the same traffic signs and signals.
- Signal all turns.
- Wear a bicycle helmet every time and on every ride. Nearly all bicyclists who died from a collision were not wearing helmets.
- Be visible by wearing bright colors during the day, reflective gear in low light conditions, and use head and tail-lights at night.
- Remember that respect is a two-way street. Show motorists the same courtesy that you expect from them.