As you have probably noticed, the roadways are filled with a variety of different vehicles. One of those types of vehicles that people often overlook is the bicycle.
Back in the ’70s, bicycles were one of the most popular forms of transportation. Over the last few years, bikes have seemed to be regaining that popularity and you are starting to see an increase of bicyclists on the roadways.
Riding a bike to work is not only great exercise, but it is also good for the environment. Unfortunately, there is obviously an increased risk of danger for the cyclist that decides to share the roadways with other vehicles than can weigh over two tons.
Every year, there are several fatal accidents that involve bicycles. There are a few different rules that motorists can follow in order to ensure that cyclists are able to stay a little safer when driving on the road.
Understand that bicycles are vehicles too
A lot of motorists feel that a bicycle does not belong on the same road with everyone else. Bikes are obviously slower than a car, therefore they do seem to cause a bit of a delay for other motorists who are trying to commute. However, no matter what state you live in, the law considers a cyclist to be on the same playing field as any other motorist.
Just like a car, a bicycle is expected to travel down the road in a safe manner, obey traffic signs, and follow all of the rules of the road. The law looks at a bicycle the same way it does any other vehicle. And cyclist has just as much of a right to be on the road as any other vehicle.
Give the bike some space
For a cyclist, having a large vehicle driving right beside them can be scary and dangerous. Driving too close to a bicyclist could cause them to lose their balance and fall. You also run the risk of accidentally hitting them with your vehicle.
This is why 32 states have passed the 3-feet passing law. With the 3-feet law, when a motorist wants to pass a cyclist on the roadways, they must leave at least three feet of space between the car and the bicycle.
Lawmakers feel that giving the cyclist at least three feet of space can help to keep them safe. However, there are a few other states that require that motorists give the bike a little more room.
Pennsylvania, for instance, requires that motorists leave at least four feet of space in between the car and the bike. And Delaware, Kentucky, and Nevada make their drivers completely switch lanes if they want to pass a bicycle.
Be vigilant at intersections
If you are at an intersection with a cyclist, you should pay close attention to where they are going to ensure that you don’t accidentally hit them. Bicycles don’t come with turn signals, however, they are still required to signal the other drivers to let them know which direction they plan on going.
If you see a cyclist with their left arm extended straight out, that means they are about to make a left-hand turn. If their left arm is bent at the elbow with their hand pointing straight up, that means that they are about to make a right-hand turn.
Be on the lookout
One of the most common reasons why a cyclist gets into an accident with a motorist is that the motorist claims that they didn’t see the cyclist. Sometimes, the motorist doesn’t even think about the fact that there could be a bicycle on the road with them, so they don’t even bother to look for a bike. It is important to remember that cars and trucks are not the only vehicles that we share the roadways with.
Also, if you happen to be parked on the side of the street, make sure to check your rearview mirror to ensure that a cyclist is not riding by your car before you get out of it. It is all too easy to accidentally hit a cyclist with your car door. Unfortunately, that can cause serious injury to the rider.
It can be easy to get frustrated when you have to share the roadway with a cyclist. However, try to remember that the cyclist has just as much right to be on the road as the motorist does. Also, they have the same goal that the motorist has. That is, of course, to get to where they need to go without incident.
According to the NHTSA, there were over 750 fatal bicycle accidents that involved a vehicle in 2017. This is why it is important for motorists to be aware of the cyclists on the roadways. If you follow these tips while driving, together, we can ensure that cyclist are abe to stay safe while traveling.