CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – May is Bay State Bike Month, 22News is working for you with a closer look at how local communities are working to protect bicyclists.

To celebrate Bay State Bike Month, The Friends of Northampton Trails and other bicycle advocacy groups held a community breakfast in downtown Northampton. This event was meant to start a dialogue on the importance of creating the infrastructure needed for bikes throughout the Pioneer Valley.

Biking has always been a popular mode of transportation especially now as the weather starts to warm up but it oftentimes can pose great risks. While riding a bike has many benefits, one of the drawbacks is that if you’re ever involved in an accident, you will not have the protection you do when you’re in a car. The lack of protection creates the very real possibility of being involved in a potentially fatal crash or fall.

Failing to yield the right of way is the highest factor in fatal bike crashes, followed by bicyclists not being visible. All states require bicyclists on the roadway to follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorists to keep everyone on the roads safe.

22News spoke with MassBike about local efforts to increase safety and protect cyclists and pedestrians on the roads.

“Infrastructure is what is going to keep people safe and they’re going to be installing dedicated sidewalk global bike lanes that are going to create that separation. Separated bike lanes have been proven to increase safety for not only bicyclists but for pedestrians because of that added space and putting that investment here in western Mass. where it’s so beautiful and people want to ride is absolutely a need.” Jes Slavin, MassBike Communications Coordinator

In an effort to improve safety advocacy groups encourage people to take the right precautions. That includes doing things like wearing your helmet and having reflectors. Increasing your visibility will keep you safer on the roads especially at night and in the early morning hours.

There is a lot of new legislation that’s being pushed forward right now to address this issue. Most recently a four-foot-wide law was passed, drivers are now required to provide a “safe passing distance” of at least four feet when passing vulnerable road users. The provision makes Massachusetts the 36th state in the country to set a safe passing parameter of at least three feet.