People often think they’re safe because they “just ride around the neighborhood.” Unfortunately, most serious crashes occur on quiet neighborhood streets.
Bicyclists must obey the rules of the road like all vehicle drivers and must be treated as equal users. The best way to avoid collisions is to be prepared and aware of other vehicles. Avoid common bicyclist errors and watch for motorists.
Follow these safety tips:
• Ride predictably and act like a good driver. Drivers are used to the patterns of other drivers. Ride in a straight line, obey traffic signals and do not weave in and out of traffic. Always use hand and arm signals. Riding predictably reduces your chances of a crash with a motor vehicle.
• Look, signal and look again before changing lanes or making a turn. Establish eye contact with drivers. Make sure drivers see you before executing a turn or riding in front of a turning car. Always give pedestrians the right-of-way.
• Watch out for car doors opening.
• Stay visible. Wear brightly colored clothing for day riding. At night, wear reflective materials such as a reflective vest or belt. Use white headlights and red taillights when riding at night.
• Use a bell or horn. Your bell alerts drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists to your presence. It is required by law.
• Always wear a properly fitting helmet, no matter how short the trip. Never wear headphones while riding a bike.
• Never carry another person on your bike.
• Keep your bike in good repair. Check brakes and tires regularly. Routine maintenance is simple and you can do it yourself.
As a motor vehicle driver, it’s important to watch for bicyclists. The following tips can help you share the road:
• Look before you open your door. Don’t rely on your rearview mirrors to see around you. Turn your head to look for bicyclists, skaters and scooter operators who may be approaching your vehicle.
• Make sure there is at least 4 feet between you and cyclists. Cyclists may have to maneuver unexpectedly. Don’t tailgate them, especially in bad weather.
• Lay off the horn. Cars are loud, so cyclists can hear you coming. Don’t honk at cyclists unless they are in immediate danger.
Riding defensively, scanning your surroundings and learning how to share the road safely could save your life.