How To Be Courteous to Bikers While Driving
Bicyclists, cars, trucks, and other roadworthy vehicles all share one thing in common: the need to drive safely on city and rural roads. Because cars and trucks significantly outweigh bicycles, they can cause grave injury to bicyclists in the event of an accident. For this reason, it is important for them to be courteous toward bicyclists at all time and respect their presence on roadways. Being courteous to bicyclists is not only the right thing to do, but it creates a friendlier and safer atmosphere on roads. Good behavior isn't just the responsibility of drivers, however, as bicyclists must also do their part to create a safer travel environment for all.
Often, defensive driving is associated with a car's interaction with other cars or large vehicles on the road. Defensive driving, however, can also be useful when it comes to sharing the road with bicyclists. It is a driving strategy in which a person drives in a way that they are able to identify dangerous situations on the road and make skilled and strategic decisions to help avoid an incident. When it comes to bicyclists, drivers may use defensive driving techniques to effectively handle and avoid potentially dangerous situations.
- Eliminating distractions is a key principle of defensive driving. Cell phones, eating, and distracting noises takes a driver's attention from the road and increase their chances of not seeing a bicyclist or otherwise failing to avoid a dangerous situation.
- The difference in weight between a car and a bicycle is roughly 2 tons versus 20 pounds, which makes bikes exceedingly more vulnerable in the event of an accident.
- Leaving in a scheduled and timely manner ensures that drivers avoid rushing to reach their destination.
- Avoid speeding, which reduces one's ability to react safely to a situation.
At times, drivers may feel inconvenienced or frustrated by bicyclists, particularly if there are a number of bicyclists or they are not adhering to safety rules. Safe driving practices, however, are critical regardless of how drivers may feel about the presence of bicycles on the road. As always, an alert and informed driver is a safe one. This means learning to understand the rights of bicyclists, being mindful of hand gestures, and knowing what the state laws are regarding bicyclists and driving near them.
- Bicyclists share the road with drivers and are equals with drivers on the road.
- Bicyclists are often in unexpected places, which makes it important for drivers to always check their mirrors prior to making a turn.
- Always use turn signals when making a right turn.
- Slow down and check bicyclists before passing to ensure that they are not planning to turn.
- In as many as 20 states, drivers are required to give bicyclists at least three feet when passing.
- Learn and heed hand gestures that are universally used by bicyclists.
- Bicyclists have the same rights of way as vehicles in roundabouts.
- A bicyclist preparing to stop will extend their left hand and turn both the forearm and hand downward.
- A horizontally extended left arm indicates a left turn.
- When making a right turn, bicyclists will extend their right arm straight out with their hand pointing in the direction of the turn.
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