Sharing the road takes a conscious effort on the part of both motorists and cyclists, but it can be difficult sometimes for drivers to know the situations that are most dangerous for cyclists. It is vital that drivers remain actively aware of all types of travelers, including cyclists. Here are some quick tips to help drivers share the road with their fellow travelers.
Treat cyclists like any other car
In the eyes of the law, bikes are considered a moving vehicle and are subject to all the same rules that automobiles must adhere to. They are also due the same treatment as other cars. Just as you would with another car, leave appropriate space on all sides, leave adequate stopping time when changing lanes, and let cyclists merge when appropriate.
Check for bikers when opening doors
Most bike lanes are positioned between curb parking and the driving land. While some streets are being developed towards a more bike friendly system with the bike lane between parked cars and the sidewalk, bikes on most street must ride by the driver side door. Since cyclists are encouraged to ride as far to the right as is possible, they often ride right by the driver side door. Be careful when opening the driver and left passenger door to double check for cyclists as well as passing cars.
When turning, always double check for cyclists
Turning right in a car from the main street seems like a simple, unimpeded task. But for cyclists moving straight through an intersection in a bike lane where a car is turning right, it can be extremely dangerous. Though drivers don’t have other cars to take into consideration when turning right from the right lane, drivers should check specifically for cyclists in the bike lane when turning right.
Leave 3 feet between you & cyclists
In order to protect cyclists from aggressive behavior, the law states that a car must leave 3 feet between an automobile and a cyclist wherever the cyclist happens to be riding, which may be in the lane. If there is not enough space to safely pass a cyclist riding in the lane, drivers should leave adequate space behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass with at least 3 feet between travelers.
Avoid parking in bike lanes
Unless posted by signs, it is not technically illegal to park in a bike lane, even if it is a two way bike lane. That said, traffic moves much smoother when bikes are able to ride freely in their designated bike lane and don’t have to impede faster traffic in the main lane. To make traffic move smoothly, let cyclists ride in the bike lane by avoiding parking in the bike lane.
For other safety tips, see the Bike Rights Austin main resource.
If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident caused by someone else, it’s important to talk with a personal injury lawyer experienced with bicycle accidents. McMinn Law Firm’s accident attorneys are available by phone, live chat, or web form 24/7.