Last weekend, Jamie Roberts, a 24-year-old woman from Rockville, MD was killed while taking part in a cross-country charity bike ride. Her team, 4k for Cancer, was riding 4000 miles, from Baltimore, Maryland to Portland, Oregon. Roberts and two other bicyclists were changing a flat tire on the side of the ride when they were hit by a truck.
Sadly, these devastating accidents are far too common. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012 726 people were killed in bike/auto crashes—that is almost two people each day of the year. Also in 2012, 4743 pedestrians were killed by cars, that’s more than 12 people every single day of the year.
Tips tricks and safety precautions to follow while running or biking:
Be seen. Wear bright clothing so people will notice you. At night, wear reflective pieces on your clothing and shoes. Use a bright headlight on the front of your bike and a flashing red light on the back.
Be alert. Drivers don’t always pay attention. They talk on the phone, fiddle with the radio, text and even put on makeup. Whenever possible you want to make sure that drivers can see you. For example, try to make eye contact at an intersection before you start your way through, if eye contact doesn’t work then wave your arm, or yell – do anything you can to make sure that you are noticed.
Be prepared. Always carry identification, especially if you have a medical condition. If you wear a medical ID bracelet during other activities, you really should wear it while running or biking. If possible, invest in a running belt to hold your identification, health insurance card, and cell phone. If you don’t want to carry anything you can order an ID tag that ties right on your shoelaces or use something like the Milestone Pod that connects to your shoe and stores your important data electronically.
Be aware. Rely on all five of your senses to keep you safe. Listening to music and/or not paying attention to your surroundings can be the difference between life and death. You won’t be able to hear someone coming up behind you—a person or a car.
Be predictable. The rules of the road exist for a reason: follow them. People will expect you to follow them. Obey signs and signals and be as predictable as possible.
It’s important to get out there and have fun, but it’s just as important to be safe.