Car drivers and cyclists have to share the same roads, but it’s not always easy. Here’s how to ensure that everyone gets where they are going safely.
Bikes will always be on your right. Make sure to glance in that direction regularly, especially before making a right-hand turn. It’s way too easy to miss a cyclist in your blind spot, so you need to make a conscious effort to check.
In addition, distracted driving–such as texting while driving–makes it even more likely that you’ll overlook a cyclist.
Don’t tailgate cyclists. In fact, some states require that you give them at least three feet of space! A sudden swerve or fall could be disastrous if you are following too closely.
Bikes Can Merge With Traffic
If there’s no bike lane, or if conditions make it impossible to ride on the far right, cyclists have the right to merge with traffic. It’s not ideal, but if it happens you should treat the cyclist like any other vehicle. Pass on the left, use your signals, and don’t crowd them.
Most serious cyclists will use standard hand signals to indicate what they intend to do next.
Sticking the left arm straight out means that they will make a left turn. Holding the right arm straight out indicates a right turn; however, some cyclists prefer to hold their left arm upright at a 90-degree angle instead.
Finally, holding the left arm down at a 90-degree angle indicates that they plan to stop.
Watch for Kids
Children on bikes are harder to see. Not only that, but they’re less experienced and may not understand the rules of the road.
Be extra patient with pint-sized cyclists. They may try to cross the road when it’s not their turn or ride on the wrong side of the street.
Yield to Cyclists
When stopping at an intersection, yield to bike riders. They have the right of way. It’s a good idea to signal that you’ll wait for them, making eye contact if possible.
Pass slowly and cautiously. You might feel frustrated by having to slow down and accommodate a cyclist. However, that’s no excuse to whip around them the first chance you get. Wait until the opposing lane is clear and you can safely pass.
Until then, lower your speed and be patient.
Parking on the Street
Never part in a bike lane. In busy urban areas, cyclists depend on these lanes to get around. Furthermore, check for cyclists before opening your door if you are parked on the street. Getting “doored” is a real danger.