DRIVE SMART Virginia, BikeWalk Virginia and DMV: The Virginia Highway Safety Office, and Governor Bob McDonnell have joined in support of efforts that raise awareness about the importance of sharing the road in order to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths in the State by proclaiming September 12 to 18 as Bicyclist & Pedestrian Awareness Week. As Americans are becoming more concerned with their health and the environment, bicycling and walking are increasingly viewed as sustainable, inexpensive and efficient forms of transportation.
In 2009, 84 people died walking or cycling on Virginia’s roadways. In addition, 607 cyclists and 1,402 pedestrians were injured. Many crashes can be attributed to a lack of knowledge of traffic laws and/or to high risk behaviors. “It is our goal to raise awareness about the importance of sharing the road and about road users showing respect for one another,” said Janet Brooking, Executive Director of DRIVE SMART Virginia. “For example, many people don’t realize that a bicycle is considered a vehicle in Virginia and has the same duties and rights as a motor vehicle on the road.” This means cyclists and motorists have to obey all traffic signs, signals, lights and markings. A bicycle should always travel in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic.
Taking the time to more clearly understand one’s role and responsibility on the road is a key factor in keeping all travelers safer on the roadways. “With area schools back in session and many students walking, cycling or driving to school, it is critical to follow traffic laws and be particularly alert on the road,” said Dr. Kimberly Perry, Executive Director of BikeWalk Virginia.
In addition, it’s critical to make sure that all safety precautions are used. Helmets and reflective clothing can help keep pedestrians and cyclists safe, while safety belts protect motorists. “Long ago, I jumped on a bicycle without wearing a helmet. In an instant that poor decision led to a concussion after a crash” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb. “It was the worst way to learn the importance of wearing the proper gear while riding. Now, as DMV Commissioner and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative, I share my experience with hopes that other casual cyclists will make the decision to be safe. Just as you click your seat belt every time you get in a car, snap on a helmet every time you ride a bike. Regardless of your method of transportation, no matter how safe you’re trying to be, you face potential dangers at every turn. On a bike, wearing a helmet is your best protection from serious injury.”
Middle Peninsula partners include Gloucester County Monday Night Bike Group, Gloucester High School, Gloucester Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Mathews High School, and Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters,LLC.