Though traffic volume may be down in Riverside County and elsewhere due to the coronavirus crisis, it still pays to ride safely and responsibly when bicycling, California Highway Patrol officials said Friday, recognizing the start of National Bicycle Safety Month.
“In this uncertain time, more people are out on the streets biking for exercise, recreation, mental health and affordable transportation,” CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said. “Bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists must stay alert to keep everyone safe.”
California Office of Traffic Safety Director Barbara Rooney said the current slowdown in travel and other activities because of the virus does not change the fact that “the same safety rules and habits still apply” for cycling.
The CHP cited statistics showing that over the last five years, 792 bicyclists were killed and more than 56,000 injured statewide in traffic crashes.
“The data also show that riding on the wrong side of the roadway and right-of-way violations are the major causes of bicycle-involved crashes,” according to an agency statement.
All five Riverside County CHP offices — Beaumont, Blythe, Indio, Riverside and Temecula — will be making bicycle helmets available to children for free as part of Bicycle Safety Month. Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact their nearest office for more information.
According to Caltrans, traffic volume on state highways, freeways and other roads has plummeted 35% since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued his stay-at-home order for COVID-19 mitigation on March 19.
The increase in cycling activity has not been quantified by state agencies.
“Motor vehicle drivers are reminded to give bicyclists extra room when passing — at least three feet is required by law,” according to the CHP. “When turning right, drivers should look over their right shoulder to scan for bicyclists, especially when crossing into a designated bike lane. Before opening a car door, drivers should always look for passing bicyclists, especially when next to a bike lane.”
Additional information about bicycling safety is available at www.chp.ca.gov/programs-services/services-information/bike-and-ped-safety.
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