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How Higher Temperatures Affect Bicycle Riders; A Minnesota Based Study Sheds Light On The Cause And Effect Of Summertime Riding

Source: Richard Masoner-Cyclelicious via flickr

It’s a given:  The hot summer sun can be deadly if you’re not prepared.  Most of us all know the essentials:  Drink plenty of water, apply a sunscreen with a high SPF, and avoid over-exerting yourself.  But what about bicycle riders – who utilize the summer season as their time to ride?

A recent study released by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota Department of Transportation shows that higher temperatures lead to more bicycle deaths and injuries.

In the last five years (2008-2012), 44 bicyclists died on Minnesota roads and 4,599 were injured.  During this same period, more than half of bicycle deaths (24) and 60-percent of injuries (2,852) occurred between June and September – the hottest summer months.  In 2012 alone, seven bicyclists and 875 people were injured on Minnesota roads.

Along with their statistics, the MNDPS and MNDOT also released tips for bicyclists to help keep themselves safer – especially during the summer months.

When and Where Bike Crashes Happen in Minnesota

  • Each year, about one-third of bicycle crashes occur during afternoon rush hours. Three out of five bike crashes occur in cities with populations of 50,000 or more.

Who’s At Risk in Minnesota

  • Each year, riders ages 15-24 account for around one-third of all bicyclists killed or injured, and nearly 75 percent of bicyclists killed or injured are male. In the past five years, about 150 children bicyclists ages 10-14 are killed or injured annually.

 Leading Crash Factors

  • The primary reason crashes occur for both bicyclists and motorists is failure to yield right of way. For bicyclists, another leading crash factor is disregard for a traffic control device—such as a stop sign or traffic light. For drivers, it’s inattention.

So what can bikers and drivers do to alleviate the risk?

Bicyclist Tips

• Be seen: Wear bright clothing/reflective gear and use lights in both the front and back of the bike.

• Wear a helmet and ensure it fits correctly

• Signal turns.

• Ride on the road, and ride in the same direction as traffic.

• Obey all traffic control signs and signals, just as motorists.

• Assume drivers can’t see you. Look out for your own safety, as distracted drivers aren’t looking for you.

• Don’t use headphones.

 Motorist Tips

• Drive at safe speeds and drive attentively.

• Give bicyclists room—maintain at least a 3-foot clearance when passing.

• Look twice and check blind-spots — especially before turning.

• Use caution when opening vehicle doors after parking.

For more information, visit MNDOT’s Share The Road website by clicking here.


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