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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
We all know that bicycle safety is important for everybody, from a child's first ride to a seasoned racer's training. Did you know, however, that many states have laws or regulations on the books to enforce this important form of traffic safety?

Since cycling is thought of as recreation, we often don't think of as something regulated by law. There are laws regarding the use of boats, ATV's and snowmobiles, though, so why not bicycles?


Here is a brief overview of some common bicycle regulations. Regulations vary from area to area, but this will give you a general idea of what is expected in many localities.

A white front light and a red reflector on the back of the bicycle are usually required. The reflector most likely came already attached to your bike. You are responsible for purchasing and using the light. These safety devices are required for nighttime bike riding. This is often defined as one half-hour after sunset to one half-hour before sunrise. It may surprise you to know that while only four percent of bike riding is done at night, seventeen percent of crashes involving a vehicle and a bicycle occur at night. These crashes account for nearly thirty percent of all bicycle-related fatalities.

When it comes to safety devices themselves, follow these guidelines. Make sure that your front light is visible from at least five hundred feet in front of you. Your rear reflector has to be visible from five hundred feet as well. You can also install a flashing red or amber-colored light on the back, but it cannot replace your reflector. This is very important, since if a car doesn't have it's headlights on, the driver can't possibly see your reflector.

Consider wearing a reflective vest. You can also add reflective tape (specially made for this purpose) on your helmet, your shoes, or your bike itself. Wearing light-colored clothing also adds to your visibility.
While your front light must be visible from five hundred feet, make sure it's also bright enough to allow you to see thirty-five to fifty feet ahead of you. This is the amount of time needed to stop safely while traveling at fifteen mph. Adjust this for conditions like rain or fog.

Simple steps like these can save a great deal of heartache, and you'll enjoy a more relaxed biking experience while knowing that you're as safe as possible.

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