A guide to biking in a safe and civil manner
This morning I followed a guy, not wearing a helmet, weaving down Capitol Street. Over the past few weeks I have almost been hit by bicycling citizens on Capitol Street. Almost all of them are not wearing helmets and are riding ill fitting bikes showing they care as much about their safety as they do yours.
Before everyone thinks I'm a cycling hater, I'm a avid mountain biker who has many miles under his belt. I advocate biking in a safe, civil manner.
In the interest of educating riders, I point to the State of West Virgina Bicycling Safety page which includes sections on helmets, bike size, hand signals, and first aid.
First there is the helmet. It's for the riders safety, and it should fit correctly. If you decide not to wear a helmet, that's fine. It's your head. On one occasion a helmet probably saved my life. I know it saved my head. I kept the cracked helmet around for a number of years as a reminder to always wear one.
Second there is the bike size. A bike like a suit should be sized correctly. A good bike is like a good suit. Getting it sized correctly, while you might have to make a few adjustments, it will serve you for many years.
Third there is hand signals. Without signal lights and brake lights you really need to let cars, walkers, and other bikers know what you are doing.
Last there is first aid. If you ever take a header, you needed to know how to patch up yourself or your friends. Hopefully you will never need to use it, but you should learn it.
As well as endangering themselves, some riders might be breaking the law. The WV Code sections on bicycling addresses who must wear a helmet and the duties of the person riding a bicycle on public roadways.
§17C-11-2. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles. Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this chapter, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.
§17C-11-5. Riding on roadways and bicycle paths.(a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction. (b) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. (c) Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.
§17C-11-7. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. (a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the department which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet to three hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector. (b) No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle. (c) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
§17C-11A-4. Requirements for helmet use. (a) It is unlawful for any person under fifteen years of age to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle or any attachment to a bicycle used on a public roadway, public bicycle path or other public right-of-way unless at all times when the person is so engaged he or she wears a protective bicycle helmet of good fit, fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet. (b) It is unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a person under fifteen years of age to knowingly permit such person to operate or be a passenger on a bicycle or on any attachment to a bicycle used on a public roadway, public bicycle path or other public right-of-way unless at all times when the person is so engaged he or she wears a protective bicycle helmet of good fit, fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet.
I can't find any City of Charleston regulations for bicycles. Can anyone share a link?