Hi everyone, this is Corporal Chris Grenier with the Milton Police Department. Welcome to the Milton Police Department website on bicycle safety.
As one of MPD’s two LEBA certified bicycle officers, I would like to speak with you about bike safety. I specifically want to address safe riding habits which will help keep you safe when you’re traveling on the roadways of Milton.
Today I will be talking mostly about the responsibilities of bicycle riders, but keep in mind safety on our roads requires a partnership between cyclists, pedestrians and operators of motor vehicles.
In Vermont, bicyclists are considered vulnerable users, which means their method of mobility does not include built-in protection and the roadways were historically not designed with their safety in mind. With that in mind, let’s talk about some ways we can stay safe on Milton’s roadways.
Ride to the Right
When riding on the roadway, always ride to the right side of the road, in the same direction as the flow of traffic. Riding with the flow of traffic is important for a few reasons. First, bicycles are considered vehicles in Vermont and are subject to the same laws regarding signals and signs. Bicyclists are required to stop for stop signs and stop lights and signal in the same way that vehicles are, though signaling is generally done using hand signals. Secondly, another reason bicycles are required to ride in the same direction as traffic, is so that other operators are not caught unware by someone riding against the flow of traffic. A bicyclist transiting an intersection on the wrong side of the roadway, will not have the same signals and signs and traffic will not be expecting a vehicle traveling the wrong way as the flow of traffic.
When approaching an intersection, bicyclists may either remain to the right side of the lane they intend to continue in, or “take the lane”. Taking the lane involves checking to ensure the way is clear to do so, then moving to the center of the lane just prior to the intersection. This is done to ensure traffic behind is aware of the cyclists intended course in conjunction with proper hand signals.
To signal a right turn, the cyclist may either extend their right arm fully so it is parallel to the ground, or alternatively, raise the left arm so that it is extended, bent at the elbow with the forearm and hand facing upwards.
To signal a left turn, the cyclist should extend their left arm fully so it is parallel to the ground.
To signal an intention to stop, the cyclist should extend their left arm and bend at the elbow so that the forearm and hand face downwards.
Riding with Others
Bicycles are allowed to ride two abreast where not prohibited by municipal ordinance, however, they must not impede the flow of traffic and should return to line behind if traffic can not safely pass by them.
It’s important to remember that bicycles are granted all of the rights, and are subject to all of the duties applicable to operators of vehicles. This includes maintaining lane of travel and not being unpredictable. One of the most dangerous things a cyclist can do is to suddenly change direction, sometimes referred to as darting, without properly signaling their intentions. A bicycle darting suddenly into the roadway may not be clearly visible to the operator of a car and as such, there may be a delay in the operator’s ability to recognize the danger and avoid a collision.
Yield to Pedestrians
When riding on a trail or sidewalk, always yield the right of way to pedestrians and try to keep to the right side whenever possible.
When passing another vulnerable user, signal your intention to do so first. Usually this is as simple as calling out “passing on your left” prior to passing by them.
Keeping the roads safe for everyone, starts with each of us. By keeping the safety of ourselves and others foremost when we venture out, we can avoid tragedies that otherwise could easily happen. Stay safe out there and have a fun and enjoyable summer.