Cycling has become an increasingly popular mode of transportation for many people. However, with the rise of cyclists on the road, it’s important for drivers to understand how to safely share the road with bicyclists. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to ensure the safety of both drivers and bicyclists.
The Importance of Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
Cycling has many benefits, such as promoting a healthier lifestyle, reducing traffic congestion, and minimizing the carbon footprint. However, when drivers don’t share the road safely with bicyclists, it can be very dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019, there were 846 cyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles in the US. In Colorado alone, 16 cyclists die in bicycle accidents each year. Therefore, it’s important for drivers to understand road sharing laws and take necessary precautions to keep everyone safe.
Yielding the right-of way
Right-of-way is a road user’s legal right to proceed across a roadway, such as taking possession to cross an intersection. Bicycles do not have automatic right-of-way on any Colorado road or multi-purpose non-road path, but they can obtain the right-of-way over a car or other automobile with a green light or if the bike arrives at an intersection first. Bicycles, cars, pedestrians, scooters and other modes of transportation all share our state’s roads and must do so safely to avoid accidents and injuries.
Tips for Safe Cycling
If you’re a cyclist, it’s important to understand basic cycling safety rules. First, it’s crucial to use hand signals to indicate to drivers when you’re turning or changing lanes. Secondly, always wear a helmet to protect your head in case of an accident–even if not required by Colorado bicycle helmet laws. Additionally, cyclists should position themselves in the proper lane and be aware of their surroundings and potential hazards, such as parked cars, road debris, or potholes.
Cyclists have to pay attention for cars making turns in front of them. Although you may have the right-of-way at an intersection that requires a car to yield, a driver may underestimate your speed and cause a last minute collision. Even if you have legal control of an intersection, it is better to avoid an accident and ride defensively. Following Colorado bicycle laws may not alone be enough to avoid a dangerous accident.
Tips for Drivers Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
Drivers should keep a safe distance from bicyclists to prevent accidents. It’s recommended to keep at least three feet of space between your vehicle and a cyclist when passing them. Also, avoid distracted driving and be aware of bicyclists on the road. Always yield to bicyclists when appropriate, and be sure to follow road sharing laws.
Motorists driving too closely to bicyclists on the side or behind can cause accidents including sideswipes and rear-end collisions when the bike stops but the driver fails to pay attention to the bike’s speed. By riding too closely, it is more likely that a small movement or moment of inattentiveness can result in a bicycle accident. Even a mirror or trailer can graze a cyclist and cause an accident. The absence of turn and brake lights on a bicycle requires the cyclist to use hand signals and be mindful of automobiles nearby as well as drivers paying careful attention to bikes in or near their lane.
Additionally, drivers must pay attention when making turns to avoid a bike accident. When making left turns, the driver must check not just normal street lanes but also bike lanes, sidewalks and other avenues where a bike or other non-automobile may have the right-of-way. Additionally, drivers must pay attention when making right-hand turns across bike lanes and sidewalks to avoid colliding with somebody with the right-of-way.
Understanding Bicycle Infrastructure
Bicycles have unique infrastructure designed for them to travel safely on the road. Bike lanes are designated areas for bicycles to travel, separated from vehicle lanes by a solid or dotted line. Sharrows are markings on the road that indicate where bicycles should ride, typically in the middle of a lane. Bike boxes are designated areas at intersections for cyclists to wait before making a turn. Finally, bike boulevards are streets that prioritize bicycles over cars, often with traffic calming measures and lower speed limits.
Intersections can be tricky for both drivers and bicyclists. To navigate them safely, it’s important to approach intersections with caution and be aware of right-of-way laws. Drivers should yield to bicyclists when turning right or left, and follow traffic signals. Additionally, drivers should be aware of the “right hook” and “left cross” risks and avoid making abrupt turns in front of bicyclists.
Dealing with Hazards
Cyclists must be prepared to navigate hazards on the road, such as potholes, grates, and road debris. To avoid accidents, it’s important to ride defensively and be aware of potential hazards. Cyclists should also adjust their riding for inclement weather and nighttime riding. Drivers can help by avoiding obstacles that can cause harm to cyclists, such as allowing ample space around potholes or road debris.
Dooring occurs when a street-parked car opens a door into a passing bike, causing a crash. As a driver you must check your mirrors before opening a door to prevent collision with a bike or other car. This is a common occurrence when cars may park on the right side of a bicycle lane. A dooring accident often results in throwing the cyclist over the door and causing serious injury due to impact with the street.
The Benefits of Bicycle Commuting
Cycling is a healthy, eco-friendly, and cost-effective way to commute. Bicycling promotes cardiovascular health, mental well-being, and can even save money on transportation costs. Commuting by bicycle can also increase productivity, as cycling has been shown to reduce stress levels.
Sharing the road with bicyclists is crucial for safety. Cyclists and drivers alike should be aware of the laws and take necessary precautions to avoid accidents. By following the tips outlined in this article, we can ensure the safety of everyone on the road. No matter the legal right to ride in a lane or across an intersection, the best course of action is to safely make it to your destination. Riding defensively, knowing the laws and using appropriate safety equipment can reduce the likelihood of injury. If you are injured in a bike crash, contact our experienced bicycle collision attorney in Denver for advice.
- How can drivers best share the road with bicyclists?
Drivers can share the road safely with bicyclists by following the road sharing laws, keeping a safe distance from cyclists, and avoiding distracted driving.
- What are the benefits of cycling for commuters?
Cycling is a healthy, eco-friendly, and cost-effective way to commute. It promotes cardiovascular health, mental well-being, and can even save money on transportation costs.
- What are some common hazards that cyclists face on the road?
Cyclists must navigate hazards on the road such as potholes, grates, and road debris. They should be aware of their surroundings and adjust their riding for inclement weather and nighttime riding.
- What are bike boxes?
Bike boxes are designated areas at intersections for cyclists to wait before making a turn.
- What should drivers do when approaching intersections with cyclists?
Drivers should approach intersections with caution, be aware of right-of-way laws, and yield to cyclists when turning right or left.