NORFOLK, Virginia – Michael Merritt has been riding a bike for decades, and while he enjoys it, he’s also concerned as summer approaches.
âThe most dangerous part of riding a bicycle on the roads is the potential collision with an automobile,â Merritt said.
As the temperature rises, these type of collisions are also expected to increase, according to Peter Michalko, a former police officer.
âIn my 30+ years, spring and summer have been the most dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians,â said Michalko.
Michalko reacted to these types of collisions, some of which had fatal consequences.
âI think all motorists are not educated as they should be about sharing the road with cyclists and even pedestrians,â Michalko said. “They have as much right to be on the road as everyone else.”
As for Merritt, he’s part of Bike Norfolk, a cycling advocacy group that promotes cycling and safe cycling.
âIt’s terrifying,â Merritt said. “Everything can go wrong very quickly.”
He said it was a concern within the cycling community. He shared with us a moment when a car brushed past him while he was cycling from work.
“[I was] rocked, and I still remember it decades later, âMerritt recalls. âI think it was their mirror that hit the handlebars. I was personally fine. “
He was fine, but not everyone is lucky – like a cyclist who was killed in a vehicle collision in February.
âI watch out for them, and I expect them to watch out for me,â Merritt said.
If you do get into a collision with your bike, Virginia law says to treat it as if you were in a car collision. Report it to the police and give them your contact details and the people involved.
Merritt offered suggestions on how cyclists can be safe while riding.
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âDon’t wear headphones so you can hear vehicles. I also use a mirror, âMerritt explained. “Several lights and reflectors to be visible by cars.”
Michalko added that when cycling at night, riders should wear brightly colored clothing and have reflectors or lights. But these collisions can be avoided.
âIf everyone is just paying attention and slowing down a bit,â said Michalko, âlet’s all be a little more careful when the weather breaks.â