Wake up, American drivers! With gas prices through the roof, you’re undoubtedly sharing the road with record numbers of cyclists. And guess what? Those cyclists have just as much right to the road as you do. If you expect them to obey the rules of the road, you’ve got to understand how to share that road with cyclists.
While on a short, 3.5 mile bike ride in my neighborhood, traversing no major thoroughfares, encountering no stoplights, I had no less than four unsafe cycling experiences. A car peeled around a corner without slowing or signaling, almost hitting me. Another driver almost hit me by slowing, not stopping, while I was legally proceeding through a four-way stop. I was also tailgated so closely by a car that I had to pull over. Finally, a driver opened up his door as I was right next to his car, causing me to have to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting the door. I’ve been riding my bike in much more serious traffic for years, and I’ve been fortunate to not have a series of events like I had last night.
Cyclists, if you’re on the road, you’ve got to both know, and be confident in, the rules of the road. You’ve also got to be extremely vigilant, as you have a lot more to lose than a vehicle should the two of you tangle. But drivers, you’ve got to hold up your end of the bargain. You’re bigger and faster. You’ve got to know how to drive with cyclists on the road.
The Rules for Riding With Cyclists–Not Against Them
- Be aware of cyclists. I believe, because of the boom of cyclists, that it’s imperative that drivers adjust their awareness of cyclists. You can no longer just look for huge hunks of metal. You’ve got to be on the lookout for cyclists, too. Just being cognizant of bikes on the road, not staring at us blankly wondering, “What is this strange two-wheeled vehicle?” will go a long way. In fact, a recent study in Australia just uncovered that more bikes on the road actually leads to less car-bike accidents, as drivers who often interact with bikes are more aware than those who do not.
- Don’t drive in dedicated bike lanes. Please. And realize that those lanes usually end at some point, and bikes will re-enter the rest of the road with cars.
- At intersections, you must yield to cyclists like any other vehicle. They get their fair turn, too.
- Don’t tailgate. Either go around, or chill out until there is an opportunity to pass safely. You CAN pass us (which is preferable to you just driving right on our tail), just make sure you’re giving us a few feet on our left. If we wave you on, that means there’s room. For goshsakes, don’t honk. We already know you’re there, and horns are much louder outside the car.
- When getting out of your car, do a quick check behind you to make sure no cyclists are coming. Cyclist + car door=FAIL.
- Please use your turn signal faithfully. You should be doing it anyway. Increased communication, whether or not you believe it to be superfluous, is always a good thing.
We’re all just trying to get from point A to point B, right? If everyone, drivers and cyclists, agree to abide by rules of the road, everyone can stay safe.