Summer is the perfect time to break out your helmet, pump up your tires and take to the roads on your bicycle! Whether you are in your neighborhood or out on the main roads, with the weather getting even warmer, more and more people will decide to ride their bicycles and share the road with drivers.
Since this month is Bicycle Safety Month, we have compiled a list of safety tips for both drivers and cyclists that will keep you (and those around you), safe on the roads this season.
If You Are A Driver Sharing The Road:
1. Give cyclists space
Bicycles have the same rules of the road as any other vehicle, including the right to drive in the traffic lane. However, cyclists are much more exposed on their bicycle than any driver is in their car, so make sure to give cyclists an appropriate amount of space when sharing the road or attempting to pass them. Most states recommend that drivers give at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist, but in bad weather conditions, remember to give cyclists extra space like you would for any other vehicles on the road!
2. Check your blind spots
Bicycles are more difficult to catch in your blind spot than cars because they are so much smaller, so remain aware of your blind spot in case you want to turn or change lanes and there is a bicycle in your path.
3. Be careful at night
Nighttime is especially dangerous for cyclists, so be aware of your surroundings and stay alert when driving during the evening hours this summer. In addition, dim your headlights when passing a cyclist at night because your high beams can harm his vision and make it hard for him to see the road.
4. Yield when turning
When turning, it is always important to check your blind spot! But if you see a cyclist in the next lane that wants to turn as well, remember to merge into his lane before turning. Attempting to pass a cyclist right before making a turn is a common cause of collisions, due to drivers incorrectly gauging the speed of an approaching bicycle. As a general rule, if you cannot tell how quickly a bicycle is approaching or you are not sure where it is going, yield!
5. Stay alert and avoid distractions while driving
It is always important to stay alert and drive defensively, but remember that cyclists are more vulnerable than the average driver, so distracted driving could have some dire consequences. Distracted driving encompasses everything from using your phone to adjusting your radio, or, as the US Government Website for Distracted Driving defines it, “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from driving.”
In addition, remember to keep the roads safer for everybody by never drinking and driving or driving while drowsy.
If You Are A Bicyclist Sharing The Road:
1. Perform a routine maintenance and safety check
Any time you want to take your bicycle out this summer, be sure to check your tires, brakes and general frame for any damage or adjustments that need to be made before heading out on the roads. Checking your tire pressure, adjusting the spokes on your wheels and replacing any rusted braces, bolts or screws can keep your bike operating smoothly.
2. Wear a helmet
This is one bicycle tip you’ve been hearing all of your life, but it is so important! Wearing a helmet that fits snugly can protect you from brain injury if you fall or get into an accident.
3. Make yourself visible
Regardless of whether you are riding during the day or at night, wearing bright colors can help keep you visible to others on the road. It is also a good idea to include some kind of reflective material on your outfit if you are riding at night or in low-light conditions. Nighttime is particularly dangerous for cyclists, so I would recommend investing in some head and tail lights for your bike as well—anything that will make you more visible!
4. Go with the flow
Bicycles should never go against the flow of traffic! Cyclists are subject to the same traffic laws as any motor vehicle, so make sure to follow all signs, street markers and traffic officials when riding. You are still responsible for yielding to pedestrians, obeying the speed limit and signaling your turns.
5. Stay alert and avoid distractions while riding
Unfortunately, it is a common scenario when cyclists will suddenly enter the roadway from a side street, driveway, or curb without stopping or slowing down, leaving other motorists with little time to react and avoid a collision. If you are heading towards a major road, check for cars before merging into their lane and remember, staying alert and avoiding all distractions while riding will keep you, and those around you, safer—so remove your headphones, put down the cellphone and just enjoy the ride!
Bicycles and motor vehicles should be able to share the road safely, however, it is also good to prepare yourself for the unexpected. If you are a serious cyclist, sometimes your homeowners insurance or auto insurance policies will cover various situations of theft, property damage, or personal injury, but it may also be worth looking into a standalone bicycle insurance policy. Regardless of your dedication to the cyclist lifestyle, make sure that you are protected and speak to your insurance agent to check if your policies are covering you this bicycle season!