A total of 817 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2015. This represents a 13 percent increase from 2014 and the highest number of bicyclist deaths since 1995. In 2015, 88 percent of bicyclist deaths were those ages 20 and older. Deaths among bicyclists younger than 20 have declined 88 percent since 1975, while deaths among bicyclists 20 and older have more than tripled. In every year since 1975, many more male than female bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles.
The following are 10 Safety Tips for Motorist:
- Different but Equal – In all states, cyclists are deemed by law to be drivers of vehicles and are entitled to the same rights on the road as motorists. Expect cyclists on the road. Watch for cyclists on the road. Treat them as you would any slow-moving vehicle.
- Patience, not Patients – Patience, especially on the road, is a virtue, and can save lives. Your patience may involve:
- Waiting until it is safe to pass a bicycle and refraining from tailgating.
- Giving cyclists the right of way when the situation calls for it.
- Allowing extra time for cyclists to go through intersections.
- Recognizing road hazards that may be dangerous for cyclists and giving cyclists the necessary space to deal with them. In conditions where there is not enough room for a cyclist to ride to the right, they are allowed to ride closer to the lane of traffic, and sometimes even in the lane of traffic.
- Never engage in conduct that harasses or endangers a cyclist. Above all: Be tolerant. Be understanding. Be careful.
- A Passing Grade – Do not pass a cyclist until you can see that you can safely do so. You should allow ample space between your vehicle and the bicycle and make sure you do not place the cyclist in danger. If you pass too closely the drag from your vehicle can pull a cyclist off course and cause the rider to swerve out of control.
- The Right Behavior – Watch out for cyclists when you are turning right. A bicyclist may well be to the right of you and planning to go straight at the same intersection bicyclist thinking you can negotiate the turn before they reach your vehicle. The cyclist may be going faster than you think and, as you slow to make the turn, the cyclist may not be able to avoid crashing into the passenger side of your vehicle.
- To The Left, to The Left – Also look for cyclists when making a left-hand turn. Cyclists who are crossing straight through the same intersection in the opposite direction may be going faster than you realize. It is particularly dangerous on a descending slope, when cyclists pick up more speed.
- A Back-up Plan – Bicycles, and the people who drive them, come in all shapes and sizes. When backing out of your driveway always look to see if someone is riding in your path. Children on small bikes might be hard to see. Drive slowly and look carefully.
- Egress Etiquette – After parallel parking, make sure the coast is clear for opening the vehicle door to exit. Make sure there are no cyclists riding alongside your vehicle or fast approaching. By using the rear-view mirrors and by turning around, a driver can spot an approaching cyclist and circumvent a disaster. A cyclist cannot anticipate when a driver will open a door, but a driver can easily detect a cyclist who may be in the line of danger.
- Respect – Cyclists have a rightful spot on the road. Cyclists also positively impact the environment with each revolution of their wheels by opting to ride rather than drive. Do not resent cyclists. Replace frustration with a smile every time to see a cyclist.
- Honing Your Horning Habit – Do not to honk unnecessarily at cyclists. If the need does arise to honk your horn to alert a cyclist that you are about pass, do so at a respectable distance. If you are too close, the noise itself can cause a cyclist to lose his or her bearings and create a hazardous situation for both you and the cyclist.
- Try it, You’ll Like it – If you can’t beat them, join them. Ride a bike. It may just change your life. Riding is good for you and good for your environment. At the very least, it will give you a better appreciation for the problems cyclists face every day on the road with respect to motorists.
Remember a driver of a motor vehicle has the responsibility to yield the right of way to all bicyclists. Most court decisions rule in favor of a bicyclist hit by a moving vehicle. Be courteous and share the road responsibly.
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