Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
Pedestrians and cyclists are subject to most of the same rules of the road as motorists, along with several other laws that apply directly to them.
- Stay alert and undistracted. Listening to music prevents a rider or pedestrian from hearing sirens, horns, and other warnings. Earbuds in combination with cellphones often result in pedestrians who walk into other people – or out into traffic – putting themselves and others at risk. If music, a text, a call, or a game can’t wait, stop walking while you use your device and then put it away and pay attention to safety.
- Don’t ride or walk impaired. Alcohol decreases motor skills and judgment, whether you’re driving, riding a bike, or even walking. Alcohol use is a major factor in pedestrian fatalities. Data from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that in 2013, 34% of all pedestrians killed in vehicle crashes had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher (as opposed to 15% of the drivers involved in pedestrian fatalities). If you’ve been drinking, get a safe ride or take public transportation rather than risking your safety or that of others on the road.
- Watch your walkways. Walk on sidewalks and in crosswalks whenever possible. Pay attention to walk signals. Never stand in the street while waiting to cross. Keep a safe distance back when standing on corners as turning trucks and buses occasionally run up onto sidewalk corners.
- Take extra care at bus stops. Before crossing in front of a stopped bus, make sure the bus is not about to proceed, and that the driver sees you.
- Watch for wide loads. Trucks with wide loads have especially limited visibility and difficulty maneuvering. They make even wider right turns, require more space, and take even longer to stop. Keep your distance when walking around trucks carrying wide loads.
- Wear a helmet. Always wear a well-fitting, properly adjusted helmet when riding. Riding into a truck or bus is equivalent to hitting a steel wall.
- Stay aware of traffic. Always be aware of the traffic around you, especially when riding near large trucks and buses.
- Watch for brake lights and signals. Signal well in advance, but never assume that drivers see your hand signals. Always ride defensively.
- Check your brakes. Always check your brakes before riding. You must be ready to stop quickly – never assume a truck or bus will be able to stop fast enough.
- Stay out of the ‘no’ zones. Never walk or ride too close to a large truck or bus. Large vehicles have huge blind spots (or ‘no zones’) in the front, back, and sides, which make it difficult for the drivers to see pedestrians and bicyclists around them. If you can’t see the driver in the vehicle mirrors, the driver can’t see you. Always assume the driver does not see you and take extra care. Never walk or ride behind a truck or bus while it is backing up; drivers often cannot see directly behind the vehicle.
- Prepare for wide turns. If a large vehicle is stopped at an intersection or is about to turn right, never walk or ride between the vehicle and the curb. Commercial vehicles make wide turns and could easily hit you as they complete the turn.
- Respect long stopping distances. Big blind spots and long stopping distances can be a deadly combination. Never cross in front of a moving truck, or cut in too close after passing a truck or bus on a bike.
- Make yourself visible. Bright clothing is easier to see in the daytime. At night or during bad weather, wear reflective clothing, use reflectors and lights on your bike, and carry a flashlight, and/or wear a headlight while walking.
- Obey traffic laws, signals, and signs. Bicyclists must stop at red lights and stop signs and should ride with the flow of traffic. Pedestrians should obey signals and cross at intersections and crosswalks. Never assume when you have the right of way that drivers will see you and yield for you.
(U.S. Department of Transportation)