With warmer weather comes more cycling collisions, cycling and law enforcement communities say

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Posted at 3:53 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 18:30:29-04

NORFOLK, Va. -- Michael Merritt has ridden his bike for decades, and while he enjoys it, he also has a concern as the summer approaches.

"The most dangerous part of riding a bicycle on the roads is the potential collision with an automobile,” Merritt said.

As the temperature rises, those kinds of collisions are also expected to rise, according to Peter Michalko, a former police officer.

"In my 30-plus years, spring and summertime were the most dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians,” Michalko said.

Michalko has responded to these kinds of collisions, some with deadly consequences.

"I think not all motorists are educated as they should be on sharing the road with bicyclists and pedestrians, even,” Michalko said. “They have as much right to be on the road as everyone else."

As for Merritt, he is with Bike Norfolk, a bicycling advocacy group that promotes bicycling and bike safety.

"It's terrifying," Merritt said. “Everything can go horribly wrong very quickly."

He said it is a concern within the cycling community. He shared with us a moment where a car grazed him while bike riding from work.

"[I was] rattled, and I still remember it decades later,” Merritt recalled. “I think it was their mirror the hit the handlebar. I personally was okay."

He was okay, but not everyone is lucky - like a cyclist who was killed in a collision with a vehicle in back in February.

"I'm watching out for them, and I'm expecting them to be watching out for me,” Merritt said.

If you do get into a collision with your bike, Virginia law explains to treat it like you were in a car collision. Report it to the police and give them your contact information as well as to those involved.

Merritt did offer suggestions on how bicyclists can be safe while riding.

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“Do not wear headphones so you can hear vehicles. I use a mirror as well,” Merritt explained. “Multiple lights and reflectors to be visible to cars."

Michalko added that wen bicycling at night, riders should wear bright colored clothing and have reflectors or lights. But these collisions can be avoided.

"If everybody just pays a little attention and just slows down a little bit,” Michalko said, “let's all just be a little more careful as the weather breaks."