May is National Bike Month

News Release

May 4 , 2009

Chapel Hill, NC– May is National Bike Month and holds many opportunities to promote bicycle use and safety. Coordinated by the League of American Bicyclists, National Bike Month will be celebrated with various activities around the nation, including Bike-to-Work Week from May 11 to 15. Bike-to-Work Day will take place on Friday, May 15.

Riding a bicycle provides a fun way to get around while increasing physical activity, reducing traffic congestion, helping the environment and even saving money! While the yearly cost of owning and operating a vehicle is over $9,000, or 18 percent of the average household’s income, owning and maintaining a bicycle can cost as little as $120 per year. As Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said, “Bicycles are a critical part of a cleaner, greener future in American transportation, so keep those wheels spinning.”

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center offers the following tips for bicyclists and drivers:

General tips for bicyclists

  1. Be Ready. That bicycle you bought three summers ago to ride on the bike path has gathered enough dust. Put it to work – by riding it to work or for errands!
  2. Chart Your Route. Find a good route to get where you want to go. The Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center has a maps directory to help. It helps to talk with friends, family, or coworkers who ride their bikes to get good route information, too.
  3. Be Comfortable – Painful bike seats. Achy knees. Stiff back. All of these problems can be helped by correctly adjusting your bicycle to fit you. Stop by your local bike shop to ensure your bike is adjusted properly.
  4. Consider Linking with Transit . Many communities have buses with racks to accommodate bikes. You could use transit for part of your trip instead of biking the whole distance.
  5. Be There. Join thousands of your neighbors in a celebration of bicycling as a clean, fun and healthy way to get to work on Bike to Work Day!

Safety tips for bicyclists

  1. Always ride with traffic and follow the rules of the road. Forget what you might have heard in the past, you are better off riding with the flow of traffic, not against it. You are much more predictable and visible to motorists, especially at intersections and driveways. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars, and use hand signals when turning and stopping. Obey traffic signs, signals, and lane markings and yield to traffic when appropriate, including pedestrians.
  2. Don't ride on the sidewalk. Although you might think it's a safer option, motorists are simply not looking for bicyclists on the sidewalk, especially those riding against traffic. So at every driveway and intersection, you are at much greater risk of being hit by a motorist than if you were riding on the road with traffic. Pedestrians will thank you for riding on the road as well.
  3. Ride on the trail, paved shoulder, bike lane, or bike route. But, you still need to follow the rules of the road and watch out for your fellow travelers. Ride to the right, signal your turns, obey traffic signs and signals.
  4. Be predictable and visible. Try not to be hesitant or do things that motorists and other travelers may not be expecting. Make sure everyone can see you and knows where you are and where you are going. If riding in the dark, use headlights, taillights and reflectors, and wear reflective materials and brightly colored clothing. Do not wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while bicycling.
  5. Watch for stuff on the road or trail that might make you fall or swerve. Rocks, trash, storm grates, wet leaves, potholes, gravel, railroad tracks, and even wet pavement markings can all send you flying. Also watch for parked cars, doors opening, and cars pulling in and out of driveways.
  6. Watch for turning traffic. Perhaps rather surprisingly, the crash data tells us that getting hit from behind is extremely unlikely. Most car/bike collisions happen at intersections and driveways when motorists or bicyclists are turning. So, at every intersection and driveway, keep a careful eye out for:
    1. Motorists turning right in front of you-you may be going faster than they think.
    2. Motorists turning left across your path-drivers are looking for gaps in traffic and may not be paying attention to anything other than other motor vehicles.

Safety tips for motorists

  1. Watch for Bicyclists at all Times. Bicycles are vehicles and bicyclists are allowed to take the entire lane. Scan for bicyclists in traffic and give them the appropriate right-of-way. Children and novice riders can be unpredictable; expect the unexpected. Watch for bicyclists before opening car doors. Don't drive distracted or after consuming alcohol or other drugs.
  2. Drive the Speed and Avoid Aggressive Maneuvers. Obey speed limits and come to a complete stop at stop signs. Allow extra time for bicyclists to traverse intersections. Recognize hazards that bicyclists may face and give them space to maneuver.
  3. Pass Bicyclists with Care. Treat bicyclists as you would a slow-moving car-don't tailgate, and do wait until traffic conditions allow you to safely pass the bicyclist. Reduce speed when passing bicyclists and allow at least 3 ft of passing space. Check over your shoulder after passing a bicyclist before moving back. Don't blast your horn in close proximity to bicyclists.

Additional Resources

Bicycle Maps Directory

Tips About How to Bike More

Bike Month Events

National Bicycle Safety Network

Bikeability Checklist

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AAA. Your Driving Costs. 2008. CategoryID=76&ContentID=353


US Census Bureau. United States Census 2000. 2000.


League of American Bicyclists.