We Can All Contribute to Safe Bicycling

by Steve Neibler

For those of us who are involved in Healthy Adams Bike and Pedestrian Inc. (HABPI), it is mostly about biking. We’re involved in a wide variety of projects and programs throughout Adams County and beyond, but nothing is more important than personal safety and safe biking.

Here’s a pretty amazing bike safety story. A while back, a bike rider was stopped at a temporary red light next to a construction site in northern Virginia. He was standing over his bike when an unoccupied dump truck started to roll toward him and knocked him as well as the bike to the ground. One of the dump truck’s tires then ran over his head! Here’s the amazing part: the man was wearing a bike helmet at the time and the helmet likely saved his life. He was taken to the local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Yes, after a dump truck ran over his head!

Again, the truck ran over the guy’s head and he lived to tell the tale. I know we all think we look dorky in a bike helmet and they do get hot in the summer, but you only get one head and one brain. This event sort of makes all those excuses for not wearing one not very worthwhile. Thank-you to the website of WTOP Radio in Washington, D.C., for this story.

We’re fortunate to live in Adams County where there are several great bike trails, lightly-traveled back and country roads and the avenues on the Gettysburg Battlefield. There are so many great places to ride in our area. But people tell me all the time they don’t like to ride on the roads. Sometimes I agree with them; it can be dangerous. Cars are big, fast and sometimes operated in a less-than-safe manner. Drivers texting have added a new level of thrill to road biking. Please don’t do it.

However, the trade-off of getting good exercise and spending some great time outside is worth the risk in my opinion. It’s the job of both the bike rider and the vehicle operators to be safe and mutually respect each other. Bikes have the right to be on the road and bike riders have the responsibility to behave well and obey the traffic laws. Blowing through stop signs and traffic lights on a bike is wrong, as is riding against traffic, and shouldn’t be done.

Vehicle operators not knowing or understanding Pennsylvania’s four-foot law are equally irresponsible. Basically, all vehicles are required to give bike riders four feet of space when they pass them, they are required to slow down, and only pass when no vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction. The vehicle may cross over a double-yellow line to give the bike rider safer spacing.

Biking is a great recreational activity if both the bike rider and the vehicle operator simply respect each other and be courteous.

Steve Niebler is a lifelong Adams Countian and is retired after a career in human services. He continues to try to make Adams County a great place to live, work and play.