Look Out for Bikers

KIMT NEWS 3 — Last year seven bikers were killed and nearly 900 were injured on Minnesota roads.

With school just getting out it is time to start paying attention for more than just cars on area roads. Those kids fresh out of school riding around on bikes account for around one-third of all bikers that are killed or injured each year.

While many of those accidents happen in largely populated cities it is important to pay attention no matter where you are.

“It’s really important for drivers to be paying full attention so they can see all of the bikers on the road,” said Michael Schweyen, District Traffic Engineer for the Rochester MnDOT office.

So MnDOT officials are sending out a warning; with higher temperatures come higher numbers in bicycle deaths and injuries.

“The biggest problem with bicycle deaths, why crashes happen, is if bikers are not yielding the right-of-way or if they’re not making sure that the drivers can see them. The other challenges are the drivers that are using cell phones or texting that are distracted,” Schweyen said.

Since 2008, 44 bicyclists died on Minnesota roads and nearly 5,000 were injured. Over half of the deaths and injuries occurred between June and September. But all the blame cannot be put on drivers.

“Don’t assume the drivers see you, do not assume that. A good, safe thing to do is for bicyclists to make eye contact with the approaching driver. If you make eye contact that tells the biker that the driver’s seen you and identified you and can react appropriately,” Schweyen said.

Bike safety also needs to take place before you hit the road. One step is wearing a helmet that fits properly.

“For impact, you want your helmet to fit snug so if you do have impact it’s not going to move around on you,” said Scott Martin, owner of Martin’s Cycle and Fitness in Albert Lea.

If you do have an impact with your helmet it is suggested you get a new one. Like a helmet, a bike should fit you properly as well.

“If your bike is too big, then you have a hard time controlling it when you would come to a stop or come to a stop sign. A properly fit bike is just more comfortable for you too,” Martin said.

Another comfort factor for cyclists is knowing that drivers are sharing the road with them.

“Slow down, respect the cyclist that’s riding alongside the road because sometimes they don’t see you approaching or coming from behind,” Martin said.

A quality helmet can be found for $40 to $60 at your area bike shop. The good news is they are adjustable so that as your child grows, they helmet can grow with them.

Schweyen said drivers should just always expect to see a biker whether they are on a city street or a rural road. He said the road must be shared by both bikers and motorists because it is the law.

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