Commentary: Motorcycle, bicycle safety crucial on Delaware roads

The Delaware State Police would like to remind bicyclists and motorcyclists of some safety tips while riding along the roadways and ways motorist can help to make the roads safer.

For bicyclists:

• Obey the rules of the road. Drivers and bicyclists are expected to observe traffic rules such as stop signs and red lights. Ignoring these traffic rules can lead to injuries that would have otherwise been preventable.

• Never ride against the flow of traffic. Drivers and pedestrians alike may not be expecting bicyclists riding in that direction.

On Coastal Highway (Del. 1) in the Lewes/Rehoboth Beach areas, bikes are allowed on the sidewalks and must yield to pedestrians. However, in certain town limits local ordinances prohibit bikes on the sidewalks.

• Avoid distracted riding much like you would if you were driving a car, and wait to check your cell phone until you’re safely off the road.

• Visibility can be an issue for bicyclists in the dark, so take steps to ensure that motorists can see you. Adding white front lights and red back lights to your bike, plus reflective tape or clothing can also help make you more visible in the dark.

It is against Delaware law to operate a bicycle at night without a front headlight. And remember, visibility isn’t just an issue late at night; cloudy days and early mornings can impair motorists’ ability to see bicyclists on the road too.

More information on bicycle safety can be found on the Delaware Office of Highway Safety website and laws can be found on the State of Delaware website under Online Delaware Code.

For motorcyclists:

One of the most common reasons drivers give for cutting off or pulling out in front of a motorcycle is that they “didn’t see it.”

Motorcyclists can prevent crashes and injuries by:

• Reducing speeds and/or maintaining safer speeds

• Keeping headlights and marker and taillights on at dusk and in dark or rainy weather

• Staying three to four seconds behind a vehicle they intend to pass, checking oncoming traffic from the left side of the lane, signaling the intention to turn, and then checking for oncoming traffic before passing.

• Checking their rear view mirror and quickly turn their head to ensure the vehicle is a safe distance behind them when completing a pass.

• Wearing helmets that meet a high protection standard.

• Wearing proper clothing, eyewear and sturdy, closed-toe footwear.

Safer motorcycle rides start with respect. Check out the Office of Highway Safety’s Motorcycle Safety website at and find out where you can take the Motorcycle Rider Safety Course, popular routes for riders throughout the state of Delaware, and check the street smarts section that teaches you how to conduct a pre-ride check called T-CLOCS. While you’re visiting, check out the video section featuring some of Delaware’s riders as they talk about the freedom of owning a bike and why motorcycle safety is so important.

Motorists can help to make the roads safer by taking some simple precautions:

• Be extra cautious on weekends, when more bicyclists and motorcyclists take to the road.

• Provide adequate room to maneuver. Follow at least three to four seconds behind them.

• Allow extra maneuvering room in areas with potholes, pavement transitions and railroad crossings.

• Never try to share a lane with a bicycle or motorcycle.

• If a bicycle or motorcycle is nearby, check your mirrors carefully before changing lanes. Bicycles and motorcycles may be in your blind spots or difficult to see because of their smaller size.

Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe is a public information officer for the Delaware State Police.

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