How to Drive Safely With Bicyclists This Spring

It's almost that time of year again. After a long, cold winter, people across the country are anticipating warmer temperatures, and they'll be sure to start spending more time outdoors. One of the most popular outdoor activities is biking. However, every year, around 800 people lose their lives when they become involved in a crash on their bicycle. As you set out on the road this spring, there are some tips to keep in mind to make sure you share the road with bicyclists safely. 

Understand Their Rights

Many wonder why cyclists don't use the sidewalk. This is because they are considered to be using a slow-moving vehicle, and this could pose risks to pedestrians. It's important to understand and respect their rights on the road. Just a few thing to do include:

  • Be on the lookout for cyclists turning right or left and understand the signals they use
  • Utilize caution when merging into bicycle lanes
  • Be mindful when opening your door next to moving traffic

Three Feet of Clearance

As a general rule of thumb, you should give bicyclists three feet of clearance to ensure everyone's safety. Furthermore, when passing a cyclist, it can be tempting to quickly speed by and get back in your lane. However, it's better to actually slow down. It can be unnerving for a bicyclist when a car speeds up as they attempt to pass.

Stay Focused on the Task at Hand

Today, we are taught to multitask. This can be a good thing but never when you're on the road. While driving, your only concern should be the road. The number of injuries and deaths of bicyclists due to distracted driving is on the rise. If you know you'll be tempted to answer a text message, for example, turn your phone off when you get into your car. You should also ensure passengers are respectful of your duties as the driver.

Look Before You Get Out

More than a few bicyclists have become victim of being "doored". This occurs when a driver opens their door to exit their vehicle and hits an oncoming cyclist. In this situation, there is little a cyclist can do to determine if someone is preparing to exit. It only takes a couple seconds to look in the rear view mirror to check for oncoming bicyclists.

Have a Patient Attitude

As a slow-moving vehicle, bicycles don't operate at the same speed as cars. As you venture out in your car this spring, keep this in mind and maintain your patience when you encounter bicyclists on the road. Look at it this way... a bicycle means one less car to contribute to traffic.

Sharing the Road Safely

Bicycles are considered slow-moving vehicles. This means they have a right to use the road just as a motorist. It's up to us all to keep safety in mind on the road. When consider bicyclists, understand that they are at a much higher risk of damage and injury as a result of negligence. By incorporating these simple and effective tips, you can be on your way to a safe spring as you share the road safely.

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T.J. Smith, Attorney at Law
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