Driving Near, Around, and With Bicyclists
Every year, many bicyclists die in traffic accidents involving vehicles, and many more are injured. Biking advocates say drivers have a significant role in this and are pushing for a more peaceful coexistence. However, bicyclists have responsibilities too, so here are ten rules of the road for car owners driving near and around bicyclists.
- Account for the difference in size. Cars weigh around two tons while bikes are roughly 20-30 pounds. In an accident, people on bikes are more likely to suffer for it than the car driver.
- Know bicyclists rights to the road. Most people have no idea the laws that apply to bicyclists, with many drivers asking why they can’t just use sidewalks. However, bicycles are considered vehicles, and anyone ten years and older should behave as though bikes are vehicles on the street and follow the same traffic rules that adhere to cars. So, look carefully for bicycle lanes and know that the road is as much theirs as it is yours.
- Get a change in attitude. People in cars like to think bicyclists are “in their way,” but bicyclists should be viewed as equals. Be patient and view them as people, not objects.
- Consider the benefits of biking because one more bike on the road is one less car. They help lower pollutants and traffic.
- Pay attention to right-hand turns. Always signal so bicyclists know your intentions, and bicyclists should signal their turning intentions with hand signals.
- Left turns are also important. Many accidents can be prevented if people just wait for bicyclists to pass instead of cutting in front of them. When in doubt, yield to the bicyclists.
- Give bicyclists a three-foot clearance. Give them some breathing room, as it can be nerve racking to sit on a bike and have a car extremely close.
- Look around, but don’t look at your phone. Phones are distracting, and they are banned from use while driving in many states because they are the cause of so many accidents.
- Look before exiting your car, so that you don’t hit someone with your door. Impacts can make bicyclists fly off their bike and severely injure them. Check your mirrors and then exit.
- Finally, accept that bicyclists are here to stay. Bicycling is on the rise, and many people are choosing it over cars nowadays.
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