Bicyclists and motorists, sometimes, find themselves playing a game of “chicken” while sharing roads. Usually, the motorists are the bullies, often having the mentality of “This is my road. You are in my way. Get out.”
A peaceful coexistence is necessary between motorists and bicyclists, especially as an increasing number of people rely on their two-wheelers for commuting, exercise and general enjoyment. Things have changed in the past 40 years due to the growing popularity of bicycling, and motorists must understand the things that they must do when sharing roads and ensuring safety.
Safety protocols and common sense
Awareness is a critical element when motorists share the road with bicyclists. This includes awareness of their presence and awareness of the law. Here are some important tenets that motorists must know:
- Bicyclists are allowed on the road. It is the law.
- In California as well as several other states, motorists must provide bicyclists with 3 feet of clearance when passing them. The “Three Feet for Safety Act” was put in place in the state in 2014.
- Bike lanes are part of the road, so bicyclists have the same rights to the road as motorists. The latter group also must be aware of the potential hazards bicyclists face when riding close to the edge of the road. For example, bicyclists may be “doored” by drivers exiting their parked cars. The road’s side also may contain debris, sand and uneven pavement.
- Make sure to yield to bicyclists when making left turns as well as when entering roads from alleys, driveways and side streets.
- Follow common sense and safety protocols when making right turns, too. For example, motorists should signal their turn and merge to the edge of the road when preparing to turn. Also, wait for the bicyclists traveling in front of you to clear the intersection before making that turn. Such steps may help motorists avoid the sometimes fatal “right hook” in which a car turns across the path of the bicyclist.
Acceptance, awareness and coexistence
Bicyclists will feel safer knowing that motorists adhere to acceptance and awareness when sharing the road with them. This will ensure that the two will coexist and that safety remains a priority.