Tips for Avoiding Cycling Accidents
In recent times, the United States has seen an insurgence in the number of cyclists sharing the road with drivers. Soaring gas prices, “going green”, and saving money on automobile related expenses are just a few of the reasons why so many more are riding. With this influx of riders, motorists are encountering more and more of them each day. As their numbers grow, it is important to take note of several things you can do to avoid a possible collision with a cyclist.
Observe the Rider
It sounds simple enough, but can make a huge impact. If you spot a bicyclist on the road, try to gauge how they are riding as part of your normal traffic monitoring. Are they wobbling in and out of traffic? Where are they riding? The bike lane? The sidewalk? Which direction are they heading? How old are they? Children on bicycles are more likely to be struck by vehicles due to inexperience. Young children on bikes tend to make more erratic movements as well. If you suspect the cyclist is inexperienced or is riding unsafely, slow down, give them a wide birth, and proceed with caution.
Use Caution at Intersections
Most collisions involving motor vehicles and bicycles occur in intersections. While its impossible to avoid intersections altogether, do take extra care when sharing them with cyclists. If you’re traveling the same direction as a cyclist and you wish to make a right turn, make sure they aren’t in your path of travel. “Cutting off” or speeding up to make a right turn ahead of a cyclist is incredibly dangerous and can often result in a collision. When pulling out of a drive-way, especially in reverse, take an extra few moments to scan for oncoming cyclists. Bicycles are significantly smaller than automobiles and are easy to miss. Be sure to check for cyclists that could potentially go unseen behind parked cars on the street. Take a moment to double check your surroundings.
Pass Cyclists Carefully
Be sure not to crowd the cyclist by driving too close. Give them several feet between you to maneuver quickly if needed. Remember, “tailgating”, or driving too closely behind a rider, is always dangerous. The rider needs adequate room to travel and as a motorist, you need a certain amount of time to react to their riding. The closer you are to the cyclist, the closer to zero your reaction time will be. If you don’t have time to react, then a collision is more likely to occur. As you pass the cyclist, do so with the appropriate speed, obeying all traffic laws. Give them a little extra room and share the road.
Know the Road
If you frequent the same road each day, then take note of common places to see cyclists. Bicycles often enter roads from apartment complexes, city parks, trails, and schools. Keep in mind these locations as you commute and be prepared to negotiate roads with the cyclists. Knowing what you can expect before you set out to drive can be a powerful tool.