Louisiana aims to change its rep as 'bad for bicyclists'

Louisiana has a terrible reputation when it comes to safety for bicyclists, but a number of people would like to see that change. That's why the fourth-annual Bicycle Safety Festival is set to be held in Lafayette on June 1, directly across from the Federal Courthouse.

Representatives from one of the local sponsors will be handing out 300 bike helmets to riders, and there will be a bicycling safety training class. Completing the training course will allow participants to enter to win a free bicycle from another sponsor. In addition, there will be plenty of other fun, food and free giveaways, including t-shirts, bike bells and bike safety lights.

The annual project is designed to curb the problems with bicycle accidents through training and education for both motorists and bicyclists alike. Since at least 2015, Louisiana has ranked among the worst states in the nation for bicyclist safety according to more than one report.

For example, a United States Department of Transportation report named Louisiana the sixth worst state for cyclists in 2015. A study in 2018 in the Wall Street Journal cited Louisiana as the second worst state for bicyclist -- with New Orleans specifically being among the top dangerous cities for cyclists to ride.

Louisiana residents, just like those in other urban areas, are increasingly turning to bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation. It's important for cyclists to understand that the law considers a bicycle to be subject to the same rules of the road as any other vehicle -- meaning that cyclists should stop at red lights and stop signs, ride with traffic (not against it) and signal lane changes.

Unfortunately, many motorists don't leave bicycles enough space on the road. It's not uncommon for a bicyclist to get injured by a passing car's side mirror or bumped from behind by a distracted driver. The results of even a small accident can be serious for the cyclist. If you're injured in such an accident, make sure that you find out more about your potential right to compensation for your injuries and losses.

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