We’ve all experienced the irritation that comes with sharing the road with a cyclist — whether they’re spilling over from the bike lane, or going unbearably slow in front of you when you need to take a right turn. But just because you have the bigger vehicle doesn’t mean you get to rule the road. The fact is, bicycle riders have the same rights on the road as other vehicles. Follow these tips to ensure you’re being fair to bike riders every time you get behind the wheel.
Cyclists can be difficult to spot and can even sneak up on you unexpectedly, so it’s absolutely essential that you check your blind spots when changing lanes or going to make a turn. Slow down when you approach a bicyclist, and never, ever tailgate them — unlike you, they have no outside protection from impact. After parking, always turn your head to look for oncoming cyclists before opening your door; otherwise you could accidentally take a biker out! And if you’re planning to turn right on a red light, be sure the intersection is clear before moving.
Riding a bicycle among a slew of cars is an intimidating activity as it is. Honking your horn near a cyclist can be jarring for the rider, and making quick maneuvers or drifting into the bike lane can be especially nerve-wracking for bicyclists. You wouldn’t want a driver coming within inches of you if you were the one on the bike!
Sharing the road isn’t just kind, it’s the law. In fact, some cities have begun implementing shared-lane markings, or “sharrows,” to help bike riders position themselves in a shared lane and encourage drivers to accommodate their fellow travelers.
Also, remember not to cut bicyclists off. If you are approaching a turn but a bicyclist behind you intends to go straight, wait for them to go past you first, rather than cutting in front of them. And always be patient with a bicyclist’s speed — allow them extra time to get through the crosswalk. When you do need to pass a cyclist, leave at least three feet between your car and the bike. Be sure it is safe before you attempt to pass, and look over your shoulder before moving back to your lane.
Take Extra Care When Children Are Present
Children on bicycles are unpredictable. They tend to dart out into the street without looking, which means that even if you are driving through a residential neighborhood, you need to keep cyclist safety in mind. Don’t take the absence of traffic and the slower speed as a reason to start sending texts or fiddling with the radio. Stay alert — it will benefit everyone.
Need some extra info on road sharing rules? A driver improvement course is an excellent way to refresh your memory and gain a better perspective on your responsibilities behind the wheel.