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What can we do to make bicyclists visible and safer?

The headlines for the Ocala area don't often go more than a few days without word of a horrible car accident. In recent days there have been a number of such stories. One that was reported involved a collision of a car and bicyclist. It sent an 18-year-old male to the hospital and at last word he was still recovering, having suffered critical injuries in the wreck. 

This accident highlights several important things. First, it reminds us that bicycling is a popular pastime in Florida. That puts a serious burden of responsibility on cyclists and drivers alike to do all they can to ensure mutual safety on the road. Second, it reinforces that we too often don't live up to the ideal of the first observation. And when negligence results in someone being injured, seeking compensation becomes a right.

In the accident that sent the 18-year-old to the hospital, authorities note that it happened at 11:20 at night. They also observe that the youth was wearing dark clothes, had no lights on his bike and was not wearing a helmet. Officials say that as the car driver tried to pass the cyclist, he or she clipped the bike.

So, what might have reduced the risks in this particular instance? Here's what the North Florida Bicycle Club suggests:

  1. Making sure the bike is properly maintained. The group says most local bike shops willingly do free safety checks.
  2. Be sure you are seen. This may have been the most significant element missing from the accident we're talking about here. The NFBC stresses the value of cyclists wearing light-colored or even fluorescent clothing.

The wearing of a helmet is seen as a given by the NFBC, but it says proper lighting on the bike and reflectors on moving parts is also important.

Finally, the group says bikers should learn and obey traffic laws; stay as far to the right as possible, avoiding weaving; and should watch for traffic.

Awareness and action is not all one sided, however. We all can do more.

Source: Channel 13 TV, "Bicyclist critically injured in Ocala crash," Jan. 18, 2015

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