Creating more pedestrian and bicycle friendly areas is unquestionably an essential step in developing a sustainable city. However, with the inevitable increase of pedestrian and bicycle traffic, it’s important to examine issues that may compromise the safety of such traffic. One issue that continues to be a roadway safety issue is encountering distracted drivers.
Not only do drivers need to end their distractions once and for all, but pedestrians and bicyclists need to be aware of such drivers and how to avoid them. Here are helpful tips for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists for staying safer:
Ditch Your Distracted Driving Habits
Although one of the goals of a sustainable city is to decrease one’s dependence on cars, vehicle use is still prevalent whether it’s a delivery truck, a group of coworkers carpooling, or even a mass transit driver. Even if roads become less congested, it’s important for all types of motorists to stop driving distracted, particularly as pedestrian and bicycle traffic increases.
Distracted driving is a major contributing factor in car accidents and remains a frequent topic of concern from motorists to lawmakers. Distracted driving is described as anything that takes a driver’s attention from the wheel and impairs a driver visually, manually, and cognitively and while most state laws criminalize distracted driving to a certain extent, drivers still engage in risky behavior. If drivers simply decreased their dependence on technology while behind the wheel, they could reduce the following statistics:
- Pedestrian Deaths & Injuries: According to the most recent data available, 6,100 pedestrians were killed and approximately 160,000 pedestrian injuries were caused by motor vehicles in 2013. With motorists being distracted, they are less likely to see pedestrians crossing the road or children darting into the street.
- Bicycle Fatalities: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicycle fatalities increased by about 12% in 2015 with approximately 45,000 injuries occurring. Although more bicycle lanes are becoming a common sight in cities of all sizes, motorists of all kinds still need to work on paying attention to bicyclists; ditching distractions can help.
Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Pedestrians
One of the many benefits to living in a sustainable community is that it’s easier to get around via bicycle or on foot, but your safety could still be at risk. While motorists have a responsibility to be on the lookout for you, you are also responsible for your own visibility.
- Know the Rules of the Road: When you ride your bicycle, your bicycle is your vehicle and you must share the road with other vehicles. It’s also important that you know and follow the rules of the road; don’t assume that you have the right of way.
- Be Visible: Sadly, as a bicyclist, you are an invisible motorist to lots of fellow motorists. Always wear protective gear, like a helmet, wear brightly colored clothing, and use reflective tape and adequate lighting on your bicycle.
- Use Caution: As a pedestrian and bicyclist, you should never assume that motorists see you. For pedestrians, even if you have the right of way at a crosswalk, enter the crosswalk slowly and make eye contact with the driver before crossing the street. As a bicyclist, make eye contact with other motorists and always indicate your actions with proper signaling (turning and stopping).
- Avoid Distractions: Just as motorists are expected to be free from distractions, you are responsible for being distraction free, too. Avoid wearing headphones that may drown out sounds around you and never use your smartphone while walking or riding your bicycle.
If motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians all pledge eliminate distractions while traveling, they can make their sustainable city a safer place to live and travel.