Bicycle Accidents Emphasize Need For Safety

Two coast bicycle riders were hit by cars in separate accidents on Wednesday. One man was killed, while another suffered serious injuries.

The accidents bring attention to the issue of safety, when cars and bicycles share the same roads.

Bicyclists have the same right to most roads as cars, trucks and motorcycles. But with those rights... come similar rules of the road.

"If it's on the streets, you need to obey all the traffic laws. So, if you're coming up to an intersection with traffic lights as motor vehicles would be doing, the bicycle needs to stop also and wait until they get the green light. Stop sign, same thing," said Biloxi police chief, Bruce Dunagan.

The SUV driver who struck and killed the bike rider in Biloxi said he swerved to try and avoid the bicyclist. It's important that bike riders and motorists are aware of sharing the streets. Bicyclists must be especially vigilant.

Randy Watt owns a Gulfport bicycle shop.

"Be aware of where you are and what's going on around you. The traffic. Be sure you're riding with the traffic. I guess be defensive. Be a defensive rider," said Watt.

There are certain places where motorists expect to see more bicycle traffic, like in Gulf Islands National Seashore Park, where bike riding is always popular. But bicyclists have just as much right to the road on a much busier street like Pass Road. That's why it's so important that motorists and bicyclists be aware.

The Biloxi Police Department has free brochures with bicycle safety tips. Along with stressing the rules, it outlines things like visibility and the importance of wearing a helmet when you ride. Such rules make sense, especially as more bicyclists take to the roads.

"It's getting more all the time. There's been a lot of emphasis on being health conscious and losing weight. And people are getting out and wanting to ride more now," said Watt.

With some caution and common sense, drivers and bike riders can share the road safely.

Biloxi police are still investigating the death of the bike rider on Beauvoir Road. There's been no decision yet on whether the driver of the SUV will face any charges.