Thousands participating in Bike to Work Day

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WASHINGTON – Thousands of bicyclists are sharing the road Friday with drivers as part of Bike to Work Day.

Drivers and bicyclists are urged to be careful. There have been nine fatalities involving cyclists in the Greater Washington area in the past 12 months.

AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following tips:

  • Share the road. – Cyclists have the right to ride in the traffic lane and have the same responsibilities as drivers.
  • Slow down. – Give bikers at least 3 feet of clearance when passing.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots. – Do so before turning, changing lanes or opening car doors.
  • Don’t honk. – It can startle the cyclist and cause an accident.
  • Stay alert. – Avoid all distractions while driving including talking on cell phones and texting.

Drivers may see large groups of bicyclists around the region. Last year’s event attracted nearly 11,000 bicyclists. This year, it’s expected more than 10,000 will participate.

A water main break shut down a four-block area of Rosslyn that bicyclists were using, but roads reopened by 6:30 a.m.

The bicyclists will be making pit stops along their commutes. There will be 58 pit stops around the metro area, according to Bike to Work Day 2012. The stops offer food, entertainment and prizes for cyclists.

Organizers say commuters who bike to work help reduce traffic and pollution while also getting exercise.

About 2.2 percent of D.C. residents — or about 6,404 people — bike to work daily, according to AAA, which cites information from the D.C. Bike Program. The city has 56 miles of bike trails, 50 miles of bike lanes and 3 miles of cycle tracks. AAA says the data is from 2009.

But D.C. is considered the sixth-most bikeable city in the nation, according to Walk Score, a site that rates the “bikeability” of neighborhoods on a scale of 1 to 100. D.C. received a ranking of 65. Highest on the list is Minneapolis.

Walk Score bases its ratings on votes related to bike infrastructure (lanes and trails), hills, destinations and road connectivity and the number of bike commuters a city has.

Most bikeable cities:

  1. Minneapolis
  2. Portland
  3. San Francisco
  4. Boston
  5. Madison
  6. D.C.
  7. Seattle
  8. Tuscon
  9. New York
  10. Chicago

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WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report. Follow Neal and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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