Ten safety tips can help drivers keep themselves and cyclists safe on our roadways. We all understand that the cyclists are the physical losers but no sane driver wants to live with the after effects of having driven into and hurt a cyclist. We handle car versus bicycle injury claims, but we would prefer that none happened. To help folks think about safety wof cyclists when on the road, we have adapted the Ten Safety Tips for Drivers from David Zabriske’s old Yield to Life site.
1. Different but Equal:
Cyclists are drivers of vehicles and entitled to use the road. Expect cyclists on the road. Watch for them. Treat bikes like any other slow-moving vehicle. In Idaho the rules at stop signs (bikes yield) and stoplights (bikes can proceed after stopping if safe) are different for cyclists than cars. These rules enhance safety.
2. Patience, not Patients:
Patience is a virtue. It can save lives. Cars will ALWAYS “win” in a conflict with a bicycle. For a driver patience can involve things like:
- Waiting until it is safe to pass a bicycle;
- Giving cyclists the right of way when the situation calls for it;
- Allowing extra time for cyclists to go through intersections;
- Recognizing road hazards that are dangerous for cyclists and providing enough space to deal with hazards. (When hazards are present cyclists are allowed to ride closer to the lane of traffic, and even in the lane of traffic.)
Don’t let a poorly behaved cyclist ruin your day. Understand that cyclists are people too and most are responsible. Let the police handle the bad ones.
3. Pass Smartly:
Do not pass a cyclist until you can do so safely. Allow at least 3 feet–more whenever possible–between your vehicle and the bike. and make sure you do not place the cyclist in danger.
4. Right Turns:
Watch out for cyclists when turning right. A cyclist may well be to the right of you and planning to go straight at the same intersection. Do not speed ahead of a cyclist thinking you can negotiate the turn before they reach your car. Cyclists often are going faster than you think. As you slow to make a turn, the cyclist may not be able to avoid crashing into the passenger side of your vehicle.
5. And Left Turns:
Look for cyclists when making a left-hand turn. Cyclists crossing straight in the opposite direction are often going faster than you realize.
6. Back-up Plans:
Bicycles, and the people who ride them, come in all shapes and sizes. When backing out of your driveway always look to see if someone is riding in your path. Children on small bikes can be hard to see. Drive slowly and look carefully.
7. Door Dangers:
After parking, look before opening the car door to exit. Make sure there are no cyclists riding alongside you or approaching. By using the rear view mirrors and turning around, a driver can spot a cyclist and circumvent a disaster.
Start using your opposite hand to open the door, the so-called dutch reach, and you will automatically look behind in the process of exiting. A cyclist often can’t see a driver who is about to open a door, but a driver can easily detect a cyclist who may be in the line of danger.
Cyclists are traffic; they are also your neighbors–policemen, carpenters, plumbers, doctors, grocery store workers, secretaries–people from all walks of life.
Stop and be thankful-seeing a cyclist means one less car on the road.
9. Hold Off On The Horn:
It is NOT helpful to honk when you are passing a cyclist. It often creates danger because the noise itself can cause a cyclist to lose his or her bearings. If you must honk do it at a respectful distance.
10. Try it, You’ll Like it:
Join them. Ride a bike. It may just change your life. Riding is good for you and good for your environment.