Safety on the roads is a two-way street when bikes are out | NevadaAppeal.com

Safety on the roads is a two-way street when bikes are out

We applaud a new law that makes bicycling safer by requiring motorists to give bicyclists a wide berth.

Under a Nevada law that takes effect on Oct. 1, motorists must change lanes to pass a bicyclist if it’s safe to do so. Otherwise, motorists must give bicyclists at least 3 feet of extra space when passing.

We realize that bicyclists are vulnerable when sharing the road with motor vehicles.

Which prompts us to wonder why it is still legal for a bicyclist to ride without a helmet in Nevada.

According to figures developed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, wearing a helmet while bicycling reduces the chance of head injury by 85 percent. Head injuries are the most serious cause among a majority of bicyclists killed. The vast majority of the bicyclists killed in 2008 were not wearing a helmet.

In all, 21 states have laws that require young bicyclists to wear a helmet, the institute reports, but no state has a requirement for all riders.

In Nevada, we require the drivers of motor vehicles to wear seatbelts, we require motorcyclists to wear helmets, but we don’t require bicyclists, who are more vulnerable, to wear helmets.

If safety is worth having motorists provide more room for bicyclists, it is also worth having bicyclists don protective head gear.