When you're behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, looking out for other drivers is just one of the challenges you'll face. You'll also need to watch out for the presence of other conveyances, such as scooters and bikes.
While deadly bike collisions are relatively rare — only 2% of motor vehicle crash deaths reported each year involve bicyclists — people on bikes are more vulnerable to serious injury, including traumatic head injury. Thus, it's important to be aware and follow the rules of the road where bikes are concerned.
Ready to learn more? This post details how to share the road with a bike so that everyone stays safe.
Rules for Bicycles on the Road
Laws for bike riders vary state by state, but there are some general rules that apply wherever you share the road with a bike:
Cyclists have the right of way over motorists but must yield to pedestrians.
They must ride with the flow of traffic, never against it.
Cyclists can only ride in the middle of a lane if the lane is not wide enough — about 14 feet wide — to accommodate both bikes and motor vehicles. If the lane is wide enough, bikes must ride on the righthand side of the road.
Bike riders must use hand signals to indicate an upcoming turn.
Bikes must have lights on between dawn and dusk and during low visibility conditions.
Tips for Motorists Who Share the Road With a Bike
Remember That Cyclists Have the Right of Way
Most motorists have been irritated by bikes that ride in the center of the lane or ride two abreast. These cyclists may or may not be breaking the law, but you need to remember that they still have the right of way.
Don't Ride in the Bike Lane
This seems like an obvious point, but with more cities throughout the United States dedicating space to bike lanes, it can be tempting to use this lane to maneuver around cars making lefthand turns. This is not only illegal; it could be dangerous.
Be Aware That Bicycles Could Be in Your Blind Spot
If a bike enters your blind spot, it poses some of the same risks you'd face with another motor vehicle — namely, you could swerve into the bike, change lanes not knowing the bike was there, or make a turn and collide with the bike. Always note the presence of bikes, especially as you approach an intersection.
Special Conditions When Sharing the Road With a Bike
Bikes are required to have their lights on when there is low visibility, but there may be circumstances when vehicles run into unexpected weather conditions, and bikes may be unequipped to deal with them. Always be alert to the possibility that bikes could be on the road in fog or severe weather.
Making a Righthand Turn at an Intersection
Many accidents occur when motorists fail to note the presence of a cyclist as they approach an intersection. Motorists should always stop and assess the situation, even when have the green light at an intersection. You never know if a bike has entered the roadway behind you and is planning to go straight through the light.
Want to Be Prepared?
It's never too late to improve your driving skills. IDriveSafely.com offers defensive driving courses designed to teach you how to anticipate unsafe road conditions and react to them appropriately so that you can be a safer and more confident driver. What's more, taking this class could give you a discount on your auto insurance policy. It's a win-win proposition.