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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

April 28, 2021
Bike Safety: Rules of the Road
Girl riding bicycle

When riding a bicycle, one must follow some basic “rules of the road.”  I have been riding a bike on the roadways and mountain terrain in Phoenix and across the state of Arizona for more than 30 years. My family has joined me in many of these rides and I have also competed in bike events.

In our previous bike safety blog, we explained the importance of sizing your bike, how to pick the right one for you and the importance of wearing and the proper way to fit your bike helmet.  In this blog, we’ll look at “the rules of the road” and the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), Title 28-Transportation. In the State of Arizona, much like other states, we have laws specifically for bike riders. In Article 11 of the ARS, we find the bicycle laws created to help you bike smart and bike safely in Arizona. Here are few of them:

  • Ride on the right-hand side of the road. Always ride with the flow of traffic. Riding against traffic is very dangerous.
  • Ride predictably. Follow the same rules motorists do; travel in a straight line without swerving into other traffic lanes.
  • Obey traffic control devices (signs, signals, lane markings). Bicyclists must follow the rules of the road just like other vehicles.
  • Protect your head and always wear a helmet, even on short trips.
  • Ride safely through intersections. Use the right-most lane that goes in your directions. If you're heading straight, get in the through lane, not to the right of a turning vehicle. Always check for oncoming traffic.
  • Signal before you move or stop. Hand signals let drivers and others know what you intend to do next.
  • Be visible and be seen. Wear bright colors to increase your visibility and make eye contact with drivers.
  • Look behind you. Know how to look over your shoulder without swerving or losing your balance; side-view mirrors are an option.

As you can see, riding a bike as a lot of responsibilities, but motorists have laws they need to obey as does a bicyclist. 

Here are some bicycle facts from the City of Phoenix Bicycle Collision summary in 2017:

  • Nearly eight out of ten collisions occurred at or within 150 feet of an intersection.
  • More than seven out of ten non-intersection-related collisions occurred on a main street.
  • More than 40 percent of collisions occurred while the motorist was making a right-hand turn.
  • Almost 17% of bicyclist in collisions were children below the age of 18.

Additionally, there are some other key things to do when planning to ride your bike:

- Plan your bike ride

Try to pick a route that will be safe for you and those with you, preferably roadways with bike lanes. You may have to ride a bit further, but it will be worth it. Living in the “Valley of the Sun,” we are very fortunate that we can ride our bikes every day, even in the summer. When planning your ride, take these questions into consideration:

  • Are there bike lanes?
  • Are there bike paths?
  • Are sidewalks available to ride on?
  • What are the major intersections?
  • What kind of car traffic is there on your route?

Finally, before you go on your ride, use this handy checklist to prepare:

  • Hydrate. Start drinking water the night before and continue throughout your bike ride
  • Remember sunblock. Apply 30 minutes before the ride and during based on reapplication directions
  • Wear sunglasses. They provide protection from the sun but also flying objects and bugs
  • Try to schedule your bike ride for cooler parts of the day

If you follow the rules of the road and always keep your safety a priority, then you should have a pleasant ride. Also, it’s important to remember motorists are not looking out for you. They do not expect a bicyclist to be on the roadway. Make sure you are “seen” by following the rules. Avoiding a collision is top priority!

Because of the COVID-19, there has been an influx of bicyclists all over the country and Arizona is no exception. This means families are riding and enjoying family time together. So, get out. Be safe and enjoy the great outdoors riding on two wheels!

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