According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hundreds of bicyclists die in traffic accidents involving motor vehicles, and thousands more are injured every year. In fact, tragically, former central Florida politician Rep. Frank Attkisson was recently struck and killed by a car while riding his bicycle.
And while drivers can play a big role in reducing those staggering statistics, bicyclists have responsibilities, too.
So we’ve compiled two best-practices lists – one for drivers and one for bicyclists – to help everyone safely share the roads.
For drivers, be sure to
- Remember bicyclist vulnerability. Pound-for-pound, cars always have the upper hand in a collision.
- Know bicyclists’ rights. Bicycles in the roadway are considered vehicles and therefore have the same rights, too.
- Be kind. Remember a bicyclist is a human being – not simply a nuisance, obstacle or inconvenience.
- Recognize bicyclists are doing you a favor. Think of a bicyclist as one less car on the road contributing to traffic and pollution.
- Watch your right. Drivers should signal and watch out for bicyclists in their blind spots when making right turns.
- Watch your left. Never assume you have time to complete your left turn if a bicycle is approaching. When in doubt, yield.
- Use the three-feet rule. Give bicycles about three feet of space to give yourself – and the bicyclist – a cushion and a spatial frame of reference.
- Pay attention. Seems obvious, but more and more collisions are now due to distracted drivers on their phones.
- Look before opening your door. Make sure there are no bicycles approaching before opening your car door.
- Realize that bicyclists are multiplying, so they’re not going anywhere. More and more people are electing to ride their bikes for exercise or to commute – or both.
For bicyclists, be sure to …
- protect your head. Again, this may seem obvious but it bears repeating – wear a helmet.
- act like a car. Don’t weave in-and-out of traffic. If you wouldn’t do it in a car, don’t do it on a bike.
- be seen. A seen bicyclist is a safe bicyclist so avoid blind spots and use lights when biking at night or in low-light situations.
- pay attention. Same as when driving a car – and just as obvious – don’t ride while distracted by your phone.
- look, signal … then look again. Use hand signals to let drivers and other bicyclists know where you’re heading.
- recognize that road rules are your rules. The same traffic rules and regulations that apply to drivers apply to you, too.
- observe road conditions. Always be mindful of obstacles in your path. A branch in the road won’t prove an issue for a car but it could spell trouble for a bicycle.
- check ride readiness. Make sure your saddle is in a comfortable position before riding.
- go with traffic. Make sure to always bike in the direction of traffic – just like a car.
- check your equipment. Make sure to check your brakes and wheels before hitting the road.
With just a few adjustments to your expectations, attitude and awareness, bicyclists and drivers can learn to peacefully coexist and share the roads. And should you have questions or need help with a bicycle-related issue, please don’t hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Anton Castro Law.