New Years Fitness: How to Not Get Hit By a Car While Running and Biking
Getting into shape is at the top of many peoples’ New Year’s resolution lists this year. Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, or maintain your current physique, chances are you’ll end up running or biking around Kansas City. Safety should be your top priority during these activities. Every year, thousands of pedestrians and cyclists die in motor vehicle collisions around the country. Prevent devastating accidents with these tips for staying out of harm’s way.
Invest in the Proper Equipment
Missouri’s bicycle laws mandate what type of equipment a bicycle must have to be out on the streets and roads at night. Do yourself a favor and abide by these rules completely to be as visible as possible while bicycling at night. The equipment your bicycle must have to ride at night in MO is as follows:
- White light on the front of the bicycle or carried by the rider. Must be visible at 500 feet.
- Red reflector of at least two square inches facing the rear of the bike. A red lamp will also suffice. Must be visible at 600 feet.
- Lights or reflective material visible from both the front and back of a bicycle on any moving part of the bike, such as the pedals, crank arms, bicyclist’s shoes, or lower legs. Must be visible at 200 feet.
- Lights or reflective material on each side of the bicycle or rider. Must be visible at 300 feet.
You should always wear a helmet while biking, even if the law does not mandate that you do so. Breaking the bicycle rules not only puts you at risk of incurring legal penalties, but it can also risk your life. Bicycles are much less visible to motor vehicle drivers than other cars, especially at night. Give yourself the best chance of drivers seeing you by using all the correct lights on your bike and person.
If you plan to run at night, invest in reflective and brightly colored clothing. Wear flashing lights on your wrists or ankles. Run in the opposite direction of traffic (facing the cars coming toward you) to see oncoming vehicles. Do not wear headphones or listen to music while running, as you may not be able to hear vehicles approaching you.
Practice Defensive Riding and Running Techniques
As a pedestrian or bicyclist, you can never assume motor vehicle drivers are paying attention to the road. Drivers can be using cell phones, intoxicated, or just plain careless behind the wheel. It can be difficult for even a prudent driver to see a runner or biker in time to avoid a collision. Take the defensive for your best chance at avoiding a deadly collision. Always expect the unexpected and avoid heavy traffic areas and times of day. Avoid areas where there is a higher chance of risky drivers, such as outside of bars, in parking lots, near retirement communities, and near high schools.
Plan your route before you begin your walk or bike ride, and figure out the safest path to avoid a collision. Wherever possible, avoid traffic altogether and take bike or pedestrian paths and lanes. If you bike in the roadway, do your best to stick to the far right side of the lane to enable vehicles to pass you safely. Follow roadway rules as if you were in a motor vehicle. This can prevent angry and aggressive drivers from following or trying to pass too closely.
New Year’s is a great opportunity to finally start that workout regime, new diet, or fitness class you’ve wanted to try. If your resolution includes doing more walking or biking in Missouri, take steps to protect your personal safety.