One of the most exciting days toward the end of third grade is the third grade bike rodeo. In conjunction with the elementary schools and the Needham Police Department, the bike rodeo teaches students bike safety before they are permitted to ride to school.
Our children are taught the rules of the road, including the use of hand signals to let automobile drivers know what their intentions are as they bike through the streets. But as drivers, do we pay attention to a child using these signals? Do we remember what each hand motion means?
My son loves to ride his bike across town to the High Rock School. Before his first trek, we found what we thought was the safest route—one with crossing guards at all the major intersections, a route that avoided biking down Great Plain Avenue. Luckily, he has not been involved in a bike accident, but he comes home with tales of drivers who are seemingly distracted or just not paying attention while he is riding and has had many near misses. As I said, he is lucky, but some other children are not as fortunate.
So our children learn to bike safely, but those of us who drive should learn or relearn the rules of the bicycler (be they children or adults) so that everyone can be safe.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bike riders should:
- Go With the Traffic Flow. Go with the flow—not against it.
- Obey All Traffic Laws. This includes: all traffic signs, signals and lane markings.
- Yield to Traffic When Appropriate.
You can visit the NHTSA website at www.NHTSA.dot.gov for more helpful safety rules of the road.
Unfortunately, there are times when our young riders aren’t following the rules of the road. This means as drivers, it is our responsibility to be careful, diligent and observant of hand signals when we are around bicyclers.
Here are some hand signals to watch for:
- Left turn: left arm extended out
- Right turn: left arm up with elbow bent or right arm straight and pointed to the right
- Slowing down or stopping: left arm extended down
When we hear the news of a bicycle rider struck by a car, we pay attention. Hopefully, as drivers, we can pay attention now and avoid any horrific accidents.