Deadly bicycle accident puts spotlight on safety

Bicycle safety begins with being aware of your surroundings

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts averages 9 bicycle deaths a year. Michigan averages 24.

10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a 50-year-old driver in a pickup truck plowed into a group of bicyclists, killing 5 and injuring 4 more. People 22News talked with said it can be dangerous to share the road.

“There are always times when cars go by you too close and they honk at you and then there are times when they go by you and you almost get hit. Yes, road biking is more dangerous than people think,” said Luke Toritto of Amherst.

Accidents like the one in Michigan are why many people come to places like the Norwottuck Rail Trail in Northampton. It’s a place for walkers and bicyclists to come and escape traffic. Established in 1992, the 11 mile trail goes from Northampton to Belchertown.

“Definitely. We love this rail trail. We have our kids with us today and we feel like they can bike safely and everybody can have a great time,” said Erin Klett of Greenfield.

Bicycle safety begins with being aware of your surroundings. Wear your helmet, use hand signals, wear reflective clothing at night, signal when passing, use a bell or horn and follow the rules of the road. For drivers, slow down.

“Drivers generally take care and stop for you if you are crossing the crosswalk, but you do have to be careful because once in a while you have someone going fast or someone who doesn’t show you any courtesy,” said John Laflamme of Florence.

On this day, the Norwottuck branch of the rail trail was filled with bicyclists looking to enjoy the day away from the hustle and bustle of street downtown street traffic.

As for that driver of the pickup truck in Michigan, police say he was seen driving erratically, just minutes before crashing into the bicyclists. His name is not being given out until he’s been charged, which should happen sometime Thursday.

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