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Spring’s time for bikes — and safety

Sheriff's column

Kevin Sproul

Kevin Sproul

As sheriff, I am deeply concerned with the safety of all citizens. One area of specific concern is the safety of those citizens who ride bicycles on the public roadways in Dougherty County. In today’s economy, bicycles are more commonly seen as the preferred mode of transportation for short trips — especially with springtime upon us.

I wanted to share some basic safety tips for those who rely on this timeless mode of travel. These are my top 10 bicycle safety tips, which were provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  1. Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet. Protect your brain, save your life. It is also required by Georgia law for anyone under age 16.
  2. Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be level with the seat.
  3. See and Be Seen. Always wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights.
  4. Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards. Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves and dogs.
  5. Avoid Riding at Night. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Make sure you have lights and reflectors on your bicycle (white lights on the front and red lights or reflectors on the rear are required by Georgia law).
  6. Go With the Traffic Flow. Ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles. Go with the flow — not against it.
  7. Obey All Traffic Laws. A bicycle is a vehicle and you’re a driver. When you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. Do not carry more people on the bicycle than it is designed and equipped for and do not ride more than two abreast in a traffic lane.
  8. Yield to Traffic When Appropriate. If there is no stop sign or traffic signal and you are coming from a smaller roadway (out of a driveway, from a sidewalk, a bike path, etc.), you must slow down and look to see if the way is clear before proceeding.
  9. Be Predictable. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars. Signal your moves to others.
  10. Stay Alert at All Times. Use your eyes and ears. Watch out for potholes, cracks, wet leaves, storm grates, railroad tracks, or anything that could make you lose control of your bike. You need your ears to hear traffic and avoid dangerous situations; don’t wear a headset when you ride.

When safety rules are followed, a bicycle can be a very reliable and efficient method of transportation. Many of the bicycles available today combine great quality with reasonable cost. If you choose to ride a bicycle for transportation, exercise, or recreational enjoyment, please do so with care. Obey the rules and stay safe. If you need further information or have any questions, please feel free to call my office at (229) 431-3259 or (229) 430-6508.

Sheriff Kevin Sproul is a longtime resident of Dougherty County. He is a graduate of Albany High School, Darton College and LaGrange College of Albany. Sproul has been employed with the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office since 1982 and can be reached at (229) 430-6508.