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Common myths about bicycle accidents

The country has embraced bicycles as a green way to travel with the bonus of healthy exercise. It seems like a win-win situation.

Many people fondly remember riding bicycles when they were young, but the carefree days of youth are only a memory. Bicycles are still an enjoyable way to reach destinations; however, traffic is heavier, and riding is not as safe as it was on the residential streets of childhood.

Myth #1. Pedestrian-bicycle accidents are unusual

Although accidents from cyclists hitting pedestrians are rare, they occur more often than people realize. With the increase in workers commuting to their offices on bicycles, pedestrian injuries and fatalities are becoming more common.

Myth #2. Road rules for cyclists are different from rules for auto drivers 

According to Georgia traffic laws, a bicycle is a vehicle, meaning it is in the same category as autos. Bicycle riders often think they can weave through traffic, run red lights or ride in areas that are illegal for auto travel. While there are a few specific exceptions for bicycle travel in the Georgia traffic code, for the most part, cyclists must obey the same traffic regulations as cars, trucks and other vehicles.

Problems occur because car and truck drivers do not realize bicycles are also vehicles; therefore, drivers may not yield or give proper room to a bike rider. Tempers can flare when either a cyclist or an auto driver refuses to share the road. Bicyclists are in a dangerous position when they challenge a 4,000-pound car for road space. Some bicycle riders overestimate their ability to maneuver out of danger quickly, and a helmet does not offer sufficient protection to prevent a tragedy.

Myth #3. Sidewalk riding is safer than riding a bicycle on the road

This myth is the most dangerous to bicycle riders. The truth is that sidewalk riding causes more bicyclist injuries and fatalities than street riding, reveals Bicycle Georgia. The problem is that auto drivers are not expecting to see bicycles on a residential sidewalk when their cars may be entering or leaving driveways. 

A bicycle travels much faster than a pedestrian walks. A driver checks side and rearview mirrors before backing out or looks both ways before entering a driveway. Pedestrians move slowly enough that a driver has time to stop. The increased difference in speed between a bike and a pedestrian robs the driver of that safety window. A cyclist can zip up to a driveway after the driver has already performed a safety check. The car backs over the bicycle because the driver did not spot the bicycle rider until it was too late.

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