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Bicycle safety: not just a ride in the park

Bicycle safety: not just a ride in the park

September 25, 2012

Hawaii residents and visitors enjoy a climate ideal for bicycling. Many steps have been taken to increase safety on Hawaii roads, but because cyclists are at a colossal disadvantage in a motor vehicle collision, it is always important for cyclists to do everything in their power to ensure their own safety while riding Hawaii’s roadways.

A 2005 National Household Travel Survey concluded that cyclists are up to 11.5 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle collision per mile travelled than motorists. This is a sobering statistic, certainly, and one that stresses the importance of bicycle safety.

The foremost precaution a cyclist can take before heading out on the road is to make sure they and their cycle are properly outfitted with appropriate safety gear. Above all, a rated safety helmet is the most important piece of safety gear a cyclist can use. A reflective vest and light colored clothing are also important in letting motorists know that you are there. A common statement by motorists involved in collisions with cyclists is “I never even saw them.”

But safety gear should not be limited to the cyclists themselves. Bicycles on Hawaii’s roads should be sure their bicycle has proper reflectors on both wheels, below the seat facing backwards, and on the handlebars facing forward. Cyclists who ride at night should mount a headlamp on the handlebars as well, to increase their own visibility and their visibility to motorists and pedestrians.

Proper bicycle maintenance is equally important to improving safety. Cyclists should be sure that their brakes work properly, and that the seat, wheels, and handlebars are secure.

Obeying traffic laws also greatly reduces the risk of injury on a motor vehicle collision (and costly traffic citations). Using proper, established hand signals for turns and avoiding erratic and unpredictable behavior like darting in and out of traffic or riding against traffic are key to reducing the risk of serious injury or death.

Because motorists are often themselves unpredictable, it is vitally important to be alert and aware of their surroundings. Because it is important to be able to hear the traffic around you, such as approaching sirens or shrieking tires, bicycle safety organizations advise against riding with headphones on.

The State DOT offers many helpful bicycle safety tips at:


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