Safety comes first for campus cyclists

Oct. 7, 2015

By Shakeva Oliver


Bicycles on the roadway are, by law, vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles.

Cyclists must obey all signs and signals and yield just like other drivers. Cyclists can take several precautions to prevent falling or crashing and getting injured or injuring others. Here are some tips to help keep everyone on the roads and sidewalks safer.

Cyclists need to make sure they are riding the right-sized bike and have the right-sized helmet. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets should sit one or two fingers width above the eyebrow and should not shift once the straps are tightened. The chin strap should be tight enough to only allow one or two fingers to fit between the strap and the chin.

Front and back brakes should work properly and cyclists should wear clothing that helps keep them visible to pedestrians and other drivers. Headlights and reflectors also help cyclists to remain visible in low light. Tires should be checked  for holes or low pressure which can affect slowing, stopping and turning.

“Make sure that there aren’t any loose bolts on your bike,” Ryan Girouard, president of the UW-Whitewatwer Cycling Club said. “Handlebars, seat post and brakes can all come loose and can lead to accidents.”

Girouard recommends to drive defensively and always be prepared to react to another driver’s mistakes; anticipate what they do before they do it. Look both ways before entering traffic and drive with the flow of traffic. Stay in one lane as much as possible and make sure other drivers can see you, especially near stop signs and traffic lights. Always signal and look over your shoulders before changing lanes.

“Cars don’t always see you and you should always be aware of where cars are and where they are coming from so you do not get hit,” Girouard said.

When crossing the street from a sidewalk, follow pedestrian signals. Another tip that can help on campus is to announce when you’re passing a pedestrian from behind.

“I notice bicycles don’t treat themselves as vehicles on campus. They are expected to stop [at crosswalks and signs],” UW-W Chief of Police Matthew Kiederlen said.

He recommends people register their bikes with campus police. Registering a bike will help with recovery if it gets lost or stolen. U-locks are the best for bikes because they are the most secure.

“It’s not unusual at the end of the year that people forget their bikes,” Kiederlen said. “There are between 20 and 50 bikes left on campus per year.”

The number of fatalities that occur have slowly been decreasing over the last few decades, but there is still a long way to go.
In 2013, more than 900 people lost their lives in bicycle/motor vehicle accidents. An estimated 494,000 bicycle-related injuries were reported in emergency room visits, according to the Center for Disease Control Bicycle Safety page.

Avoid texting or listening to music in both ears. Distractions can increase the chance of getting into an accident. There is also an increase in the possibility of not noticing emergencies.

Communication with other drivers also aids in the prevention of accidents. A simple head nod or hand motion works.

Plan a route before leaving. Taking a path with less traffic and wide roads decreases the risk of getting into an accident. Use slower streets on the weekends, especially at night. In 2013, 22 percent of bicycle-related fatalities occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center website.

For more information on bicycle safety, visit:, or contact campus police at [email protected]du.