Simple tips for sharing the road with cyclists
Did you know that the number of Americans that commute to work in large cities has nearly doubled since 2006? This means there are more cyclists than ever on the roads in and around Los Angeles. Unfortunately, many of our streets are not exactly bike-friendly. Without dedicated bike lanes, cyclists and motorists must share the road. Here are 5 ways drivers can help make sure they’re sharing the road safely and reduce the risk of causing a bicycle accident.
- Respect Cyclists: Drivers need to realize that bicycles have the same right to be on the road as any motor vehicle. Any time there is not a bicycle lane, cyclists can “take the lane” or travel in the lane with traffic just like a car. Just because cyclists tend to move slower than the rest of traffic doesn’t mean that drivers can cut them off, fail to yield, or commit any other traffic infraction that would interfere with a cyclist’s safety.
- Learn Biking Hand Signals: Turn signals and brake lights communicate a driver’s intentions to others, which is extremely important for preventing accidents. Since bicycles don’t have electronic turn signals or brake lights, riders have to use their hands to signal instead. These hand signals don’t do any good if drivers don’t understand them! All drivers should learn the most common bike hand signals: sticking the left arm straight out means a left turn; sticking it up at a 90 degree angle means a right turn; and holding it down at a 90 degree angle means braking.
- Leave Space When Passing: Since bicycles travel slower than the rest of traffic, cars will often need to pass them. Passing must be done with care. All the same rules that apply when passing any kind of vehicle should be followed. Plus, California law requires that motorists leave at least 3 feet of space between the side of their vehicle and the cyclist when passing.
- Avoid Distractions: Distractions like using a cell phone, eating food, or even talking to passengers can take a driver’s attention off the road long enough to cause an accident in any circumstance. However, distractions can be particularly dangerous for cyclists. With a smaller profile than a vehicle, cyclists are easier for a distracted driver to overlook.
- Look Before You Exit: Drivers can still potentially cause bicycle accidents even when parked. How? By accidentally opening their door into the path of a bicycle. When parallel parked on a road, drivers need to be careful to look behind them before opening the door.
Have You Been Injured in a Bicycle Accident?
Bicycle accidents have the potential to cause injuries to motorists as well as cyclists. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a cyclist—or if you have been hurt by a driver while riding your bike—The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker can help. We handle all kinds of bicycle accident claims, and we know the best legal strategies to maximize your compensation. To learn more, contact us at 800-333-0000. The initial consultation is always free.