Arizona is perfect for bicycling. Unfortunately when you are on a bike, accidents and injury go hand in hand. But did you also know that Arizona bicyclists have the SAME RIGHTS as passenger vehicles? They have the same legal rights to use the road as motorists. Same roads, same rules, same rights and responsibilities.
For many non-cyclists, the perception is that cyclists take their lives into their hands on the streets — that in some sense they are “asking for it” by riding recklessly or by venturing onto the streets in the first place. This perception is simply untrue. In reality, most cyclists are extremely alert when riding on the city streets, and bicycle accidents are much less common than those involving pedestrians or motor vehicles.
Any cyclist knows that the main risks of bike accidents come from three sources: reckless, belligerent or blindsided motorists; swinging car doors; and jaywalking pedestrians. Cyclists must somehow be alert to these dangers while simultaneously keeping a close eye on the pavement for potholes, metal plates and other ground-level hazards.
The sad truth is Arizona has the 4th highest cycling fatality rate, based on population in the United States. Twenty-nine bicycle riders died in Arizona last year. Arizona also has the nation’s deadliest red-light runners, with three of the country’s worst cities for fatal intersection crashes, according to a study of federal transportation data obtained by USA TODAY…. Arizona had by far the worst death rate among states, with 6.5 fatalities for every 100,000 people… Arizona also had three of the four most dangerous cities. for red-light fatalities. Phoenix topped all urban areas, followed by Memphis, Mesa and Tucson.
Bicyclists have rights! When being passed the law requires that you are given AT LEAST THREE FEET of clearance, and FIVE FEET when passed by commercial trucks, semis, RV’s and busses. The wind pushed out from the side of these larger vehicles can cause a bicycle crash, and if there is room, they are required to give you, as the rider a FULL LANE of clearance.
Andy Clarke with the League of American Bicyclists and said the 2003 death of Brad Gorman, 26, of Tucson led to this important law. He said Gorman’s family went on a mission to improve bicycle safety after Brad, who used his bike to get to work, was killed in a bicycle accident by an inattentive driver. “They were the ones who got passed in the Arizona Legislature the law that you have to give a safe passing distance of three feet or more when you pass a cyclist,” Clarke said.
Cars driving recklessly can cause catastrophic and fatal bicycle accidents. Motor vehicle drivers are required by law to SLOW DOWN and pass cyclists carefully. Especially at railroad crossings and cattle guards, through construction zones and in poor weather conditions. Cyclists are allowed to move to the left briefly in order to safely cross railroad tracks. Cars are not allowed to use their horns when following a cyclist. If the sudden blast of a horn startles the cyclist and causes a bike crash the driver of the motor vehicle can be cited for causing the crash. To quote Andy Clarke with the League of American Bicyclists again talking about the fatal bike crash in Colorado of Bill Bliss:
“Bill was making a left turn on a highway in Colorado. he was doing everything right, following all the rules of the road — signaling, in the left lane — and a driver who was going too fast for the conditions and wasn’t paying attention hit and killed him,” Clarke said.
That person never meant for that to happen. But, at the same time, if you’re speeding, if you’re not paying attention, if you’re inattentive, if you’ve been drinking and driving, if you’re going to fast for the conditions, if you’re simply not taking due care, I think we need to hold ourselves collectively more accountable for that.