WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – More and more bicyclists are hitting the road now that summer is in full swing. But with more riders come more safety issues and more potential accidents.
Bino Cummings, bike shop manager at Hickory and Tweed in Armonk, spends plenty of time on his bicycle. The most pressing issue, he said, is for cyclists and drivers to pay attention when they are pedaling and driving out on the streets.
"As a rider, when I'm out on the road, at least once a ride, a car, truck or bus comes within a few inches of me. If they hit me, I'm dead," Cummings said. "And they may not even know I was there. So that's kind of terrifying to have that level of consequence."
Many drivers are not conscious of the consequences of a collision between a car and a bicycle, Cummings said. A steel car is safe for the driver, but the bicyclist has no such protection, he said.
"I'm basically stripped down to my underwear, riding along at 25 mph," Cummings said.
Stan Avedon has ridden a bicycle for more than 35 years and is general manager at Hastings Velo. As a rider, Avedon said the fear of a crash or injury is ever present.
"The thought of having an accident with a vehicle is always in your mind," Avedon said. "Some people, it's more prevalent than others. Some people are a little more cautious about riding in traffic."
Cyclists and drivers need to respect each other, Avedon said. He leads weekly group rides and focuses on positioning during rides to advocate safety.
"We're vehicles on the road just like cars. We're entitled to the road and have rights to the road just like any other vehicle on the road," Avedon said. "We must abide by both vehicular code and the rules of the road."
Cyclists should ride single file as much as possible and should never ride more than two abreast, Cummings said. In fact, riding more than two abreast is illegal, according to Section 1234 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws.
That same section details that cyclists must ride in a usable bicycle lane or, if there is no such lane, near the right curb unless preparing to make a left turn or if they are unable to stay near the curb.
The most prevalent issue for bicyclists is adherence to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws when pedaling on the streets, said Lt. Patrick McCormack, public information officer for the Yonkers Police Department.
"A bicycle is commonly thought to be a recreational toy, but there are responsibilities that go with operating a bicycle," McCormack said via email.
Officers recommend the use of "designated bicycle routes and common sense" when bicycling, he said.
Cummings encouraged respect between cyclists and drivers. When a group of 20 cyclists rides three wide, he said, it is not only illegal but it frustrates drivers, which can lead to problems.
"Be respectful to the other people out there ... and everybody's going to be OK," Cummings said.