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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Don’t become a statistic; follow bicycle safety rules

  • When McPherson College sophomore Paul Ziegler died riding his bicycle on Sept. 23, 2012, it contributed to a tragic statistic — the number of cyclists injured or killed in bicycle/motor vehicle accidents every year.
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  • When McPherson College sophomore Paul Ziegler died riding his bicycle on Sept. 23, 2012, it contributed to a tragic statistic — the number of cyclists injured or killed in bicycle/motor vehicle accidents every year.
    In 2011 — the most recent year for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics — 677 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the United States (two of those in Kansas). In addition, 38,000 cyclists were injured in motor vehicle accidents.
    While any deaths are too many, if one keeps in mind this represents just slightly more than 2 percent of all traffic-related deaths, it will help give perspective on the statistics. Also, this represents an about 18 percent reduction in cyclist fatalities since 1995, and the number of injuries has gone down more 37 percent from 61,000 in 1995.
    Despite the improvement, cyclists can help improve the situation even more by taking simple and affordable steps, such as purchasing necessary safety equipment and educating themselves on bicycle safety.
    Some of the steps cyclists should take to stay safe are:
    • Always wear safety equipment that fits you properly and snugly — at minimum a bicycle helmet. Consider a bicycle mirror to better monitor the traffic behind you.
    • Ride as if you were invisible. Some inattentive drivers won’t notice you, as if you actually were invisible. Don’t count on drivers for your safety. Ride defensively so that even if a driver doesn’t see you, you’ll still be safe.
    • Increase your visibility. Invest in a headlight or headlamp as well as a taillight. Make sure reflectors are all in good shape. Wear bright or reflective clothing. Consider purchasing reflective arm or ankle bands.
    • Signal your intentions. Wave and make eye contact with drivers to avoid accidental collisions. Use your left arm for hand signals when turning or stopping (hand up for right turn, straight out for left, hand down for stopping).
    • Ride like a car. Bicycles are considered a vehicle, just like cars and motorcycles. Follow the same rules as a car: Ride in the right-hand lane with traffic. Stop at stop lights and signs. Do not pass on the right. Avoid riding on sidewalks.
    • Ride further left. It might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s actually safer to ride toward the middle of a traffic lane rather than hugging the curb. It increases visibility, keeps you from being cut off and keeps you out of cars’ blind spots. It also gives you more room and options to react to a reckless driver, and gives more space to avoid a suddenly opened door.
    • Plan ahead. Whenever possible, ride slower and avoid busy streets. Usually it’s possible to only have to cross busy streets rather than riding along them.
    Page 2 of 2 - Please look over and follow these safety rules as you plan for the second annual “Pedals for Paul” event on Oct. 5.
    Pedals for Paul begins at 9:30 a.m. with a free bicycle safety rodeo for kids 9 and younger at Harnly Gardens. Bring your own bicycle.
    The Pedals for Paul ride also begins at 9:30 a.m. nearby on the front steps of Melhorn Science Hall, with five, 10 and 20 mile routes planned. Check-in and warm-up begins at 9 a.m. If you can’t make it, log your miles and email it to Anna Ruxlow at ruxlowa@mcpherson.edu. There’s no entry fee, but preregistration is required at www.mcpherson.edu/pedalsforpaul and donations are accepted for the Paul Ziegler Memorial Scholarship Fund.
    McPherson College welcomes you to participate in Pedals for Paul to honor Paul Ziegler and to support world peace.

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