Spring has sprung and the weather, slowly but surely, is getting warmer. With the change of seasons, Indiana residents hit the parks and streets for a variety of recreational activities. Over this spring, we will keep you up to date on news, warnings, laws, and other important safety and legal information for your outdoor activities.
According to “Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report”, bicyclist rates are holding steady but, unfortunately, so are bicyclist injuries rates. In understanding the potential dangers of bicycling, researchers examined trips made by individuals by all modes of transportation. Twelve percent of trips are made by pedestrians or bicyclists, but they make up fourteen percent of all traffic fatalities. In addition, the report identified that, despite the higher fatality level, only 1.6% of federal traffic funding goes towards pedestrians and bicyclists.
Under Indiana Code 9-21-11, bicyclists in Indiana must obey all the rules of the road and have “all the rights and duties under this article that are applicable to a person who drives a vehicle”. They should go with traffic, not against, and must remember to hand signal left, right, and slowing down.
Important laws to remember when biking:
1.) The number one rule is that bicyclists must be predictable and cautious. Clearly communicate your actions, and don’t surprise drivers.
2.) In most areas on regular roads or highways, bicycles are required to be equipped with a bell and, past dusk, have a red lamp on the back of the bike and a white lamp on the front.
3.) In most areas, it is illegal to ride side-by-side with a fellow bicyclist. This extends the pair too far into the road and limits navigation. Some residential areas and most bike paths permit such riding, but one should always prioritize safety first.
4.) Wear a helmet. Currently, there is no mandatory helmet law in Indiana. This could change, and according to a 2010 report, 70% of bicycle fatalities involved a bicyclist not wearing a helmet.
5.) For recreational riding, it is most advisable to take advantage of bike paths. Use MapMyRide or a similar tool to map out a safe bike path to follow.