LAFAYETTE, LA (KADN)- As students head back to school, you may notice more bicyclists on the road. Both bicyclists and drivers of motor vehicles have responsibilities when driving on streets and roads.
Ron Czajkowski, the transportation safety coordinator at the Acadiana Planning Commission, said that bicycle accident increased during the pandemic.
“People were looking for alternatives to get out of the house and be able to do things outdoors and kind of changing the way that they transportation,” Czajkowski said.
Bicyclists who happen to get into accidents usually are severely injured.
“If you're a bicyclist involved in a crash with a motor vehicle, your chances of not being injured, particularly seriously, possibly fatal, aren’t good,” he said.
Those operating bikes must abide by the same laws as a vehicle such as stopping for stop signs and using traffic signals. Bicyclists must ride in the farthest right lane or in the bike lanes if available.
“You should remain vigilant to the traffic around you, traffic approaching cross streets, speed of vehicles around you which might have a direct correlation to roadways, you're on,” he said.
With school resuming, there may be new bicyclists on the road. Louisiana law states that drivers must stay at least three feet from bicyclists.
“We highly recommend proper helmets, reflective gear, forward-facing white lights, and rear-facing red lights. Those are required by law,” he said.
Matthew Holland is the president of Bike Lafayette, a local organization that promotes bike safety. According to Holland, the best way to prevent accidents from happening is to create safety lanes for bikes on every street or road.
“If we want to make Lafayette safer for cyclists and pedestrians we need to really think about the infrastructure that we create and how we can improve it in this city. Like I said we have bike lanes, but they're not always connected, and compared to other cities have a lot of room for improvement,” Holland said.
Holland feels that people who drive cars and trucks don’t realize how much more dangerous driving on roads is for bicyclists.
“If you're a driver and you know you come into contact with a cyclist, they don't have anything to protect them other than a helmet which really only protects you, at low speeds, you can kind of fall off the bike,” he said.
Bike Lafayette recommends bicyclists to follow the "ABC" rule before riding a bike. ‘A’ stands for checking the tire’s air pressure. ‘B’ stands for checking the bike’s brakes and ‘C’ stands for checking the cranks to make sure the bike is in the correct gear.
Bike Lafayette hosts Gleaux Rides, on the second and last Saturday of each month. Bicyclists ride around Lafayette with neon lights to promote visibility and safe-riding. Their next Gleaux Ride is on Saturday, August 14. For more information, visit their Facebook.