University to promote Virginia Cycling and Pedestrian Awareness Week

BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 31, 2009 – Virginia Tech has joined DRIVE SMART Virginia, Bike Walk Virginia, the Virginia Highway Safety Office of the Commonwealth's Department of Motor Vehicles to promote Virginia Cycling and Pedestrian Awareness Week scheduled for Sept. 13-20.

In 2008, 90 people died walking or cycling on Virginia roadways. In addition, 716 cyclists and 1,696 pedestrians were injured.

Lack of knowledge and risky behaviors often leads to crashes between roadway users. Taking time to learn the laws and safety tips can save a life.

“Many people don’t realize that a bicycle is considered a vehicle in Virginia and has the same duties and rights as motor vehicles on the road,” says Debby Freed, alternative transportation manager at Virginia Tech. “This means bikes and cars have to obey all traffic signs, signals, lights and markings. A bicycle should always travel in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic.”

“Motorists are required by law to approach and pass bicyclists at a reasonable speed and to allow at least two feet between their vehicle and the cyclist. Motorists are required to use signals to notify other roadway users of intent and cyclists must do the same using hand signals. “Behaving in a predictable manner while driving, biking, or walking can reduce the risk of crashes,” adds Freed.

Whether riding in a car or on a bicycle, all safety precautions should be used, including a safety belt in a car, and a helmet on a bicycle. Cyclists can also protect themselves by wearing bright clothing, using flashing lights during day and night, and by securing loose clothing.

Pedestrians can improve safety by wearing bright colors during the day and reflective material or blinking lights at night. Light colored clothing is slightly helpful in making you visible at night, reflective tape or reflective fabric is much better.

Join Virginia Tech in supporting this inaugural Virginia Cycling and Pedestrian Awareness Week from Sept. 13-20.