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District recently spoke with Pat Mooney to discuss an issue pertinent to many students: bike safety.

“I’d been dead three times, guaranteed three times, had I not had a helmet on.”

Mooney, a SCAD counselor and avid cyclist, volunteered to head the bike safety initiative for the university when he first began working here.

“I think that what happens is a lot of people ride bicycles in their neighborhood when they were kids and they stopped when they got their learner’s permit. So they were not familiar with riding as an adult, certainly not as a way of getting around,” says Mooney. “It used to be a fun thing to do. They are not used to using a bicycle as a main mode of transportation. You’ve got to know some things in order to cycle safely.”

Mooney stresses that cyclists must behave in a predictable fashion, meaning that they must stop at stop signs, ride in the lane with traffic and stop at red lights.

Never ride on the sidewalk. Not only is it illegal, it is dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians alike.

In Georgia and many other states, bicycles are considered motor vehicles, so they must be operated like one. Ride in the center of the lane with the flow of traffic. This helps traffic see you and make the necessary accommodations.

Mooney says that using hand signals is an excellent way to alert traffic to your intentions.

“If you’re going to be riding at night, you have to have a white light…it has to be visible at 300 feet, the length of one football field. It has to be mounted on your handlebars.”

A red rear light is not required, but Mooney strongly recommends one. Though many cyclists choose reflectors over an actual light, they must keep in mind that reflectors cannot be seen unless there is a light source, meaning that they are virtually invisible otherwise. Dusk is a particularly dangerous time.

Mooney sent District bicycle statistics following up our interview.

According to these statistics:

• No light sources on a bicycle accounted for 5 percent of crash causes and 20 percent of night crashes.
• Sidewalk travel accounted for 11 percent of total crashes.
• The cyclist ignoring a signal was attributed to 11 percent of accidents.
• Every cyclist involved in a blown signal accident was hurt, 57 percent went to the hospital.
• Poor cyclist operation accounted for 31 percent, while wrong way travel accounted for 14 percent.

Of these statistics, it was determined by the police that 41 percent of these incidents were the cyclist’s fault.

This means that cyclists must hold themselves accountable when sharing the road with cars and pedestrians. A big part of being accountable is being knowledgeable and aware of the rules and regulations that come with operating a bicycle. It is safest to say that cyclists must be legal and predictable, visible, polite and prepared.

To register your bicycle with the Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department visit www.savannahpd.org.