Local News

Cyclist struck by car raises safety awareness

Posted March 21, 2010 6:54 p.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2010 11:28 p.m. EDT

— Motorists are being reminded to share the road after two cyclists were hit by cars this week in the Triangle.

Bicyclist Kirk Port was training for a race Tuesday on Piney-Grove Rawls Road, near Sherman Road, in Fuquay-Varina when he was struck by a vehicle.

"I just remember the car, the car being right up next to me, and then being down on the ground,” Port said.

Port knows the rules of the road well. He cycles about 200 miles a week and has numerous scars from his brushes with motorists.

"I have road rash on the elbow, road rash on the waist and the hip,” he said.

An 11-year-old boy was also hit by a car Wednesday while riding his bicycle in the Preston Village area of Cary. The boy suffered minor injuries, and the driver was not charged.

Each year, more than 900 bicyclists are involved in wrecks with vehicles in North Carolina, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Collisions often happen at intersections, and cycling experts say the best way to avoid a crash is to act like you are driving a car, not a bike.

"It doesn't matter what type of vehicle you are on, the same basic principles apply,” said Steve Goodridge, certified instructor for the League of American Bicyclists.

Goodridge said some people don't realize that bicycles have the legal status of a vehicle in North Carolina. The status means bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on the road.

"Use the correct lane for your destination and merge in line with traffic. Don't try to stay to the right of traffic that might turn right in front of you, because you won't be seen by the driver in their blind spot,” Goodridge said.

The driver who hit Port kept on going. Witnesses said he was driving erratically.

"I think everyone needs to show a little patience,” Port said.

To avoid the risk of injury, motorists and cyclists are urged to take extra precautions when driving and riding. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following advice:

  • Motorists should recognize that bicyclists have a right to ride on the roadway.
  • Motorists should make a visual check for bicyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
  • Cyclists should ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than on sidewalks.
  • Cyclists should follow the same rules of the road as other roadway users, including riding in the same direction as traffic and following all the same traffic signs and signals.
  • Wear a helmet every time you ride a bike.
  • Make yourself visible while cycling by wearing bright colors during the day, reflective gear (clothing, arm or leg bands, etc.) in low light conditions, and use head and tail lights at night.
  • Always stay alert.

To learn more about laws that bicyclists and motorists must follow, visit the NCDOT's Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation's Web site.