Editors: B-roll and interview of an e-bike user is available here.
While driving dropped in 2020 due to the pandemic, bicycling and e-bikes gained in popularity -- setting up a potentially dangerous combination of more cyclists on the road as driving returns to pre-pandemic levels, according to AAA Hawaii.
Nationally, bicyclists killed in crashes with vehicles increased 36 percent from 2010 to 2018 with most of them occurring among male riders 20 years and older, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. According to the Hawaii State Department of Health, on average more than 1,000 cyclists per year visit emergency rooms for crash-related injuries, and about 10 percent of those are serious injuries requiring hospitalization.
While driving was declining last year, bicycle and e-bike sales were rising, as well as the popularity of cycling as a socially-distanced means of travel and exercise. Between January and October 2020, bicycle sales increased 62% in the U.S. over the prior year, and e-bikes saw an even greater increase in sales – up 144% year over year, according to NPD group which monitors retail sales trends.
E-bikes (battery- and pedal-powered bikes) in particular have exploded in popularity during the last year, posing additional risks for novice riders who may not realize how to safely operate them at the higher speeds they can travel.
“During National Bicycle Month, AAA Hawaii is urging motorists to watch for bicycles, and for riders to be extra cautious as more and more vehicles return to the road,” said AAA Traffic Safety and Community Programs Manager Anita Lorz-Villagrana. “More cars and more bicycles on the road means potentially more collisions.”
AAA Hawaii recommends the following tips to help drivers and cyclists share the road:
- Stay alert—avoid all distractions while driving.
- Yield to bicyclists when turning.
- In bad weather, give bicyclists extra passing room, just as you would other motorists.
- Make a visual check for bicyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.
- Slow down and give at least 3 feet of clearance when passing.
- Reduce your speed when passing bicyclists, especially when the road is narrow.
- NEVER honk your horn at a bicyclist—it could cause them to swerve into traffic or off the roadway and crash.
- Always check for bicyclists before opening your car door.
- Children on bicycles are often unpredictable—expect the unexpected.
- Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than on sidewalks.
- 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.
- Signal all turns.
- Wear a bicycle helmet every time and on every ride. Nearly all bicyclists who died from a collision were not wearing helmets.
- Be visible by wearing bright colors during the day, reflective gear in low light conditions, and use head and tail lights at night.
- Remember that respect is a two-way street. Show motorists the same courtesy that you expect from them.