We’ve all seen the “Share the Road” signs in areas with lots of cyclists, but what does that really mean? Read on for tips on forging a happy and healthy relationship between drivers and cyclists.
1. Cyclists aren’t just trying to inconvenience you.
If a cyclist is in the middle of the lane, it means that they don’t feel they have enough space to safely cycle on the side of the road. They’re not trying to slow you down, they’re trying to stay safe. According to lawyer Jose Bautista, a driver not making this distinction can lead to trouble. ”When the motorist attempts to quickly go around the bicycle, there is a risk; a serious or even fatal accident can easily occur".
2. Pay close attention when making right turns
Check your mirrors for approaching cyclists before taking a right turn across a bike lane – T-boning cyclists this way is one of the leading sources of biking accidents.
3. Don’t block the bike lane, even if you’re just waiting for someone
It doesn’t matter if your hazards are on – you’re still causing unsafe conditions in which cyclists will have to veer into traffic to get around you.
4. Consequences for an accident with a bike will be more severe than with car
If you get into a fender bender with another car, the cost will be annoying but not life-changing. Clip an unprotected cyclist, and you could be looking at hospital bills and a lawsuit.
5. Sometimes bikers break traffic laws
It’s infuriating, but it’s better to grit your teeth and yield to an irresponsible cyclist than be stubborn and potentially hurt someone.
6. Check mirrors before opening your door when parked
Getting “doored” is a big fear of any urban cyclist. Check your mirrors before opening a door when you’re parallel parked. Too many injuries come from people opening doors without checking their surroundings.
7. Slow down when passing cyclists.
Like all people, cyclists can be erratic, especially children. Slow down when passing, and stay alert. An unaware cyclist can swing into your lane at any moment.
8. Give at least three feet of space to bikes
There’s nothing scarier for a cyclist than almost being clipped by a car roaring by. It’s the law in at least 20 states, but should be followed in all of them: give cyclists at least 3 feet of clearance on the road. Even if that means patiently waiting behind them for a better opportunity to pass.
9. Don’t blast your horn
Cyclists don’t have the protective shell of a car, and the blast of a horn close to their ears can seriously surprise and disorient them. If you must use your horn to alert a cyclist to your presence, try to keep it to a friendly blip.
10. Try it yourself sometime!
The best way to gain a sense of empathy for the bikes you share the road with is to try it yourself! Biking in an urban area will give you a much better understanding of how cars can make your trip enjoyable or harrowing depending on their actions.
There’s no getting around it – bicycles will only increase in prevalence on the streets. Follow our tips for a happier, healthier, and less frustrating coexistence between drivers and cyclists.