Improving Bicycle Safety
As a city or town council attempts to improve bicycle safety, there are many safety concerns that can be addressed. From offering off-road bicycle paths to lighting the paths to enforcing helmet laws, a city or town can help bicyclists be safer in cycling. Some free measures, such as personally assessing current bicycle path safety, can also be employed to decrease numbers of cycling accidents and deaths.
In the Beginning
As you and your council begin your bicycle safety campaign, one of the first orders of business will be assessment. Begin by assessing the following:
- Current bicycle paths: Have your team assess the paths. Are there any potholes? Are there any barriers missing over cliffs or embankments? Is lighting sufficient? Are there any low-hanging trees or bushes which could be hazards? Are safety signs posted?
- Proposed bicycle routes: Assess the traffic and/or traffic hazards implicated by routing a path along busy roads. What measures would you need to take to ensure public safety?
- Possible alternative bicycle routes: Determine if there are any safer alternative routes to dangerous, high-traffic routes.
- Cyclist habits: Also have your team be on the lookout for cyclists they may encounter on roads. Could the roads cyclists frequent connect to a current bike path? Would proposing a bicycle path along the road frequented assist cycling safety?
- Current safety: Helmets are mandatory in some countries such as Australia but not always strictly enforced by Police. Assessing the use of helmets in your city will help you determine if a helmet law should be enacted. If the majority of cyclists do not use helmets and cyclist deaths in your city are high, a helmet law may help prevent cycling related deaths.
Now that you know the safety areas of concern, you may begin enacting safety procedures. You can address the following fixes:
- Fix potholes, add lighting, add barriers, and cut back trees and bushes. Also, adding signs and pavement markings will decrease cycling accidents. Signs informing users of bicycle courtesy and safety rules, like warning other cyclists that you are passing, are some of many signs that may decrease injuries. Additional signs include stop signs, yield signs, and exercise warm up and cool down suggestion signs may help citizens stay safe.
- Adding crossing signals or pedestrian ramps to busy intersections which bicyclists frequent can also help decrease accidents. Alternate bicycle routes could also assist.
- Connecting bicycle paths can help you offer additional, safe bicycle routes convenient for many more cyclists.
- Many cyclists already know that helmets save lives. However, if helmet safety is not currently being followed, enacting a helmet law may assist your city increase bicycle safety.
Overall, a few simple measures can help you and your council ensure public bicycle safety. Assessing and fixing safety hazards; adding signs, pavement markings, crossing signals, ramps, and alternate routes; connecting bicycle paths; and enforcing helmet laws are all ways to ensure public safety.