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As weather warms, cyclist safety top of mind for local bike group

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 12:56 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Since the pandemic started, the Waco Bicycle Club said there has been an increase in the number of people getting into cycling. While the club said that’s a positive thing, there are some safety tips cyclists can keep in mind to stay safe on the road.

TxDOT data shows last year, there was a 16 percent increase in the number of fatal crashes involving cyclists, compared to 2019. The Waco Bicycle Club said a well-fitting helmet is a must—it can reduce your chance of injury by more than 60 percent.

In addition to wearing a helmet, the club said both cyclists and motorists need to keep an eye out for each other on the road. Henry Clarke, vice president of programs and education, said cyclists have the same rights on the roads as cars, but that also means they have the same responsibilities.

“We have to obey the traffic laws, we stop at stoplights and stop signs, and also just be aware of motorists,” Clarke said. “If you’re crossing at an intersection, make sure you make eye contact with that motorist because they may not see you.”

While cyclists have responsibilities around drivers, people behind the wheel need to watch out as well. Clarke said drivers should only pass cyclists when they can them at least three feet of space. He said leaving that space means there is still room for a cyclist to move around an obstacle if needed.

“As a cyclist, we may be trying to doge something that a car doesn’t care about,” Clarke said. “A small rock, stick, a little pothole can disrupt our path of travel and even cause an accident.”

Riding on the road certainly presents risks to cyclists and motorists, but cyclists have to be aware while riding on the trails as well. Clarke said it’s important to know your skill level and ride appropriate trails.

“Here at Cameron Park we have some of the best trails in the state of Texas,” Clarke said. “Some of them are difficult so know your ability and also know that there are hikers and runners that you can encounter on the trail.”

Clarke said it’s a good idea for cyclists to call out to joggers and hikers on the trail to let them know they are approaching, and he added that can be helpful for joggers and hikers to do in return.

If you are new to biking, Clarke said there is information on wacobicycleclub.com or to the Facebook page to get more information about weekly rides and get involved with the cycling community.

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