Cycling and walking are both excellent alternatives to driving a car, but many safety myths surround these alternative modes of transportation. These misconceptions may deter individuals from enjoying the benefits of cycling and walking, such as physical activity, decreased traffic congestion, and decreased pollution. Here are the top safety myths about cycling and walking for transportation debunked.
Myth: It is safer to ride a bike against traffic
Many cyclists mistakenly believe that it is safer to ride against traffic rather than with traffic, but this is not true. Cyclists who ride against traffic statistically have a higher risk of getting into an accident because drivers aren’t expecting to see someone cycling coming from the wrong direction. When cyclists ride with the flow of traffic, they are more visible to drivers, and they can use the same rules of the road as drivers.
Myth: Helmets are not needed for short trips
It is true that helmets might not always be needed, but anything can happen on even a short trip. Even a simple fall from a bicycle can lead to serious head injuries without a helmet. Wearing a helmet can help reduce the severity of injuries and even prevent fatalities, so wearing one on every ride is the best option.
Myth: Wearing bright clothing is enough for visibility
Although wearing brightly colored shirts or jackets can help improve visibility, it is not enough for ensuring safety on the road. Reflective gear, such as reflective tape or vests, is essential for making cyclists and walkers visible in low-light situations. Flashing lights or reflectors attached to bicycles are also helpful in making them visible to other drivers.
Myth: Walking or cycling on the sidewalk is safer
Although the sidewalk might seem like a safer choice for cycling, it may, in fact, increase the risk of accidents. Drivers pulling out of driveways or turning right may not be looking for pedestrians or cyclists on the sidewalk. Additionally, pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks, so walkers, runners, and children may not be expecting cyclists to travel on these paths. Cyclists must follow the same rules of the road as drivers and ride on the right side of streets, signaled with bike lanes or painted shared-lane markings.
Myth: Texting while walking or cycling is harmless
Texting while walking or cycling is not only harmful, but it’s also dangerous. People who are texting or talking on their phones will not see or hear potential threats, such as cars or bicycles. Moreover, distractions such as phones will inevitably slow people down, and they won’t be aware of their surroundings as they should be.
Myth: It’s okay to bike or walk without lights at night.
Traveling without lights at night can lead to devastating consequences. Without lights, drivers can’t see pedestrians or cyclists until it’s too late. Additionally, it can be challenging for pedestrians to see their surroundings and avoid potential hazards such as uneven sidewalks or street hazards. Lights, both front and rear, make individuals visible to drivers and pedestrians alike, and they enhance the person’s ability to see their path while walking or cycling.
Cycling and walking are great ways to stay healthy and get around without contributing to traffic congestion or pollution, but safety should always be the top priority. Remember to wear a helmet, be visible, follow the rules of the road, and stay aware of your surroundings while biking and walking. With proper precautions cyclists and walkers can be safe and enjoy the benefits of active transportation.