NCDOT eyes cycling safety, recommends adding bike lanes to highways

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Cycling can be a very dangerous hobby, with hundreds of cyclists hit by drivers every year, but state lawmakers are considering how to make it safer.

Lawmakers are currently considering recommendations made by the North Carolina Department of Transportation that could become law sometime in 2016.

The recommendations include adding bike lanes to highways (not interstates) and giving cyclists more of a cushion on the road by requiring drivers to give four feet of space when passing cyclists instead of the current two-foot buffer zone required by law currently.

The guidelines for lawmakers would also require cyclists riding in groups to ride two across instead of single file or having three or more bicycles side-by-side across the road.

“You really need these laws so drivers can come over and go around them and two abreast quickly shortens up a line. It also gives cyclists higher visibility,” said Dolly Jennings, owner of Bicycle Toy and Hobby in High Point. “You see two people a whole lot easier than you see one.”

In the hopes of making it easier for drivers to see cyclists on the road, state recommendations would also require high-visibility gear be worn by those on two wheels and could force those bike riders to have lights on the front or back of their bike or both.

“You put about 10 of those cyclists together and you think there is a fire truck out there it’s so bright but you want that you want visibility,” said Jennings.

According to North Carolina Department of Transportation statistics, 19 cyclists are killed in car wrecks every year and 664 are hit by cars.

“I think a lot of times we jump on something and say because they were riding a bicycle they were hurt. No, we ride in cars every day and we have a lot more car accidents,” said Jennings. “If our roads were friendlier you would see fewer cycling accidents.”

Jennings said she’d like to see all of these changes put in place as soon as possible, including one recommendation that would dissolve the current law and allow cars to pass cyclists even on double yellow line stretches of the highway.

“They need to be able to quickly come over and go around them and go on,” said Jennings.

Dale Jennings, Dolly’s son and an avid cyclist, said one of the most common reasons given by drivers in a car versus bike collision is the driver didn’t see the person on the bike. He thinks with the new recommendations it will help improve conditions on the road for cyclists.

You can read more on the recommendations being considered by following this link to the Bicycle Safety Laws Study Report.

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