by Terry Rogers
With the recent death of an experienced cyclist in Lewes, Milford Police Department want motorists to be on the lookout for cyclists on roadways while also cautioning cyclists to follow the laws put in place to keep them safe. Sergeant Robert Masten provided tips for both cyclists and drivers in order to keep roadways in Milford and surrounding areas safe.
“In 2017, Delaware passed the Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act that added a number of new and modified traffic rules,” Sgt. Masten said. “Some of them include restrictions on honking at cyclists unless they are in imminent danger, requiring cars to change lanes when passing a bicycle and an end to the rule of bicycle riders staying to the right.”
Another change in the legislation was the addition of what is known as the “Idaho Stop,” named after the only other state to pass a similar law. This change allows cyclists to treat a stop sign like a yield sign. According to the Office of Highway Safety, cyclists are better able to maintain momentum if they don’t have to come to a complete stop when an intersection is clear.
One of the biggest safety issues facing cyclists is distracted drivers who may not be looking at the road when they approach a cyclist. Drivers also fail to anticipate a cyclist quickly adjusting to avoid a road hazard, like gravel or a deep hole. However, there are also safety regulations that cyclists should follow in order to keep themselves safe. These include always wearing a bicycle helmet and other safety equipment. Bicycle riders should never ride while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Bicycles are also considered a vehicle and, although that means they must follow similar rules that a car must follow, they must also be given the same rights as motorized traffic.
“According to Delaware law, any person under the age of 18 should not operate or ride as a passenger on a bicycle unless they are wearing an approved, properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet,” Sgt. Masten said. “This includes children riding in a safety seat or in a trailer attached to a bicycle operated by an adult. A ticket can be issued if a child under the age of 18 is not wearing a helmet. The fine for the first offense is $25 and for each offense after, $50. We keep helmets on hand and attempt to get them in the hands of children who need them. We also partnered with LifeCycle this past August at our Milford’s Night Out. They had an educational display and have been very helpful with spreading the safety message among the cycling community.”
Sgt. Masten suggested that anyone who sees a bicyclist riding in an unsafe manner call the police department so they can address the issue. He explained that the department wants to encourage bicycle use, but in a safe manner. Although the officer who responds may not issue a ticket to the offender, they will provide education about the law.
“LifeCycle routinely promotes the bicycle safety message, which we definitely appreciate,” Sgt. Masten said. “In addition, we have one officer who was trained through the Safe Routes to School program several years ago who is available to provide training to groups, organizations and schools. Anyone interested can call the department at 302-422-8001 to arrange for a program.”
More information on bicycle safety and laws can be found at https://ohs.delaware.gov/bicycle.html.
Sign up for you free digital subscription of The Weekly Review, delivered directly to your email every Tuesday morning. A quick cover-to-cover read to catch up on the news of the week and experience great stories about our local communities. Sign up for your free email subscription below.