Bicyclists and Motorists Can Safely Co-Exist

Bike-share

By Alex Chudler

As schools of every level ramp back up this fall, it's important to be on the lookout for kids on bikes — especially since biking continues to gain popularity. Many cities across the country are attempting to become more bike-friendly every year. Hundreds of miles of bike lanes, lit paths, indoor bike parking, free bike lights and bike sharing systems are being implemented to improve the bicycling community.

In the U.S., 31 cities and 32 universities have active bike sharing systems, which allow users to rent and share bicycles for a short period of time. Ten states have established U.S. Bicycle Routes covering 5,616 miles, which are officially designated by connecting two or more states, a state and an international border or other U.S. Bicycle Routes.

With all the additional cyclists on the road, drivers must take extra care to practice safety. Drivers and bicyclists who know the rules of the road can help keep everyone safe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Rules for Riders

Helmets: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of cyclist deaths has been increasing every year since 2002, and most are from head injuries. "A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash," the agency said in a statement. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, no state has a universal law for helmet use, but wearing one is highly encouraged.

Rules of the road: Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and must obey the same traffic signs, signals and lane markers as any other vehicle. They must ride on the road with traffic, signal turns, stop at red lights and ride undistracted. Violating these in certain cities or states can result in a fine from the police. Behaving in a predictable way also keeps riders safe.

Be conspicuous: To protect themselves from injury, bikers need to alert drivers to their presence. They should wear bright or reflective clothing at all times, and use a front headlight and red rear reflective light at night. These are required in some places.

Rules for Drivers

Passing: When passing a bicyclist, give it at least 3 feet of space. Remember that your car is many times larger and stronger than a bike. Being passed can be a scary experience, so leave enough space to make it pleasant for both parties.

Opening doors: If you're in a place where there's a possibility of a biker, look around before you open the car door. A cyclist going full speed could be seriously hurt by hitting a stationary object that suddenly appears, and the driver could be held responsible.

Share the road: Bike riders are considered vehicle operators too, and must follow the same rules of the road as cars. You must share the road with them, so be polite and show the same courtesy you would to other car drivers. Hitting a bicyclist causes harm to them and legal fees for you. Stay safe and make everyone's ride a great experience.

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By David Thomas | September 3, 2013 | Comments (15)
Tags: Safety

Comments 

Skankzilla

I honestly think it's the cyclists that should be more aware of the rules of the road. Most of them seem like they own the road and countless will completely disobey road signs. I can't tell you how many I've nearly plowed into with my car.

Matt C.

It would also help if cyclist stayed off roads where the speed limit is over 30 mph or roads with little to no shoulders when no bike lane is available.

Tony G.

I have ran over a bicyclist once before. On Elston Ave. The guy was circling around, instead of just stopping at the light. i initially thought he was gonna go back so i pulled forward. and BAM! ran him over. he got out threatened me and i told him to shut up and watch out cuz next time I'm not gonna even get out of the car to ask him if he's okay. he cussed at me and i said remember my car and my plates. Bicyclists in the city are total tools. a little respect would be nice.

Reality

The people above are morons.

Elliot

Wow. Lots of vitriol against cyclists here. Um...look. I understand that there are cyclists out there who are not very good road citizens. The same can be said for drivers as well. I, for one, always signal my turns, look before shifting over a lane, etc., but have been the target of angry drivers simply for the act of riding my bicycle on the road. It's easy for each side to throw around these blanket statements about how "Cyclists should be more aware" or how "all drivers hate all cyclists." I read these from either side, as both a cyclist and a car driver, and it upsets me. Yes, it would help if all cyclists obeyed every single rule of the road. In a perfect world, they would. But in a perfect world, there would be trails and defined bike lanes and all drivers would obey every single rule of the road. Don't be too quick to point your finger at the other group, we're all to blame here. Everyone, please, be aware out there.

David Silvasi

I am willing to give cyclists plenty of space and ignore their disregard of traffic laws, as long as they use as little lane space as their skills allow, and they own up to the responsibility if they get hit by cars. There was a day when the bike was my sole transportation and there were many close calls - and a potentially crippling accident that was my own fault. The worst offenders of common sense are behind handlebars as well as steering wheels

Erik Kershner

As a cyclist following the rules of the road, I have a close call EVERY SINGLE DAY. The number 1 reason is because some drivers do not give cyclists 3 ft of clearance. That's the law in most states. If you can't give 3 ft clearance, you DO NOT PASS. That's the law too.

Cyclists can play their part in keeping themselves safe, but it's the drivers that kill us.

Ray

Some of the commenters' suggestions are great if you live in the city. I ride 8.5 miles on narrow two lane highway every day I work. There's not a bicycle lane within 40 miles of where I live. I wear a reflective vest and have flashing led lights front and back not pointed at drivers' faces. Still, some feel the need to honk as they drive by.

One issue from the article is that cyclists who wear helmets are more likely to be seriously injured in an accident. The helmet is great for head injuries if you're in an accident, but its more likely to happen if have a helmet than without.

Dean

Morons, if you try to kill me with your ton of steel and fail, I will do my best to beat you to death.

jennifer

As someone who just rode from Lansing to Sault Saint Marie 365 miles in 5 days for DALMAC.... cyclists belong on the roads. Drivers need t9 be aware and have an ounce of patience. Buzzing past me on my bike doesn't get you to your destination any faster. It does endanger my life. Cycling is not only earth friendly....it's health friendly and enjoyable. I am amazed every day at how jerky drivers can be no matter how far on the shoulder (existent or non) I ride. Sidewalks are dangerous for pedestrians when your traveling 15 to 20+mph. Shoot...I hit 40mph on one downhill road. Would hate to take out granny going to the store.

Cycling on roadways is just too dangerous nowadays with everyone looking at their phones and the police not enforcing the laws.
I've given up on riding with traffic and just take my bike to a trail, or ride it to the local beach boardwalk.

bill

As a bike rider who has not driven a car in 30 years I have seen idiots on bikes and in cars. I obey all laws. Always. I have been run off the road, hit with full beer cans. I have been cut off and attacked . 3 times I have been hit while in a bike lane. Twice I have been hit in parking lots by cell phone users.

I have also had decades of fun and fresh air. I will take the good with the bad and keep riding.

Babben

WHY is it that bicyclists will use the road when there is a parallel bike path alternative? It's safer for everyone.

I am happy to share the road with bicyclists that don't do things like ride 2-3 abreast in a traffic lane so that all cars have to move into a different lane to pass. It happens here frequently, on roads with bike paths and a 55 mph speed limit. Dangerous for everyone.

Morons, if you try to kill me with your ton of steel and fail, I will do my best to beat you to death.

As someone who bicycles and drives, I have to say that a lot of bicyclists drive me nuts.

I was in an outgoing driveway of a big box retailers parking lot, waiting for a red light. The person beside me forced me into the shoulder. Here comes a bicyclist down the shoulder, and he proceeds to start yelling at me about how I was blocking his way. I rolled down my window and explained calmly, "kind sir, you are a vehicle. You are going the wrong direction. You must follow the flow of traffic."

It's very simple. When you are on a bicycle, you have the same rights as a car... and the same responsibilities. That means stopping at stop signs and red lights, yielding where required, etc.

As a bicyclist I always follow the rules of the road, and hate when other cyclists don't. I've ridden in group rides before and have scolded fellow riders for violating the law.

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