More and more people are choosing to ride bikes for their daily commutes or for recreation and exercise. As bicycling enjoys a resurgence in popularity, however, many motorists remain uninformed of the ways to drive near bikes safely, without endangering the lives of others. If a motorists collides with a bicycle, it is the cyclist who usually suffers the most serious injuries. In fact, 784 people died in cycling accidents in 2005.
Many of these tragic accidents could have been avoided had the cyclist followed all traffic laws and safety regulations. Dangerous behaviors by cyclists that increase the risk of accidents include:
- Riding against the flow of traffic, such as the wrong way down a one-way street
- Riding at night without lights
- Riding on sidewalks
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Failing to wear a helmet
By following proper regulations, bicyclists can reduce the likelihood of a serious accident.
Motorists Can Prevent Bicycle Accidents
Although some bike accidents are caused by cyclist behavior, many other times these preventable accidents are the fault of the motorist. Drivers should take extreme cautions around bikes and do their part to prevent accidents. Examples of common bicycle accidents caused by drivers include:
- Failing to leave three feet of space between the motor vehicle and the bicycle. By driving too closely to a cyclist, drivers put the cyclist at risk for injury.
- Making a turn directly into a moving cyclist. Drivers should check their right-hand side for cyclists before turning right. Additionally, since cyclists follow the same traffic laws as motorists, they should be given the right-of-way when appropriate.
- Blocking the bike lane. Drivers should not drive, stop, or park in the bike lane. This lane is designed to help keep bikers out of dangerous traffic situations. Forcing a biker to navigate around a vehicle parked in the bike lane may cause an accident.
- Opening parked car doors into the direct path of an approaching cyclist. A high-speed collision with a car door can prove fatal for a cyclist. If stopped or parked by the curb, always check for approaching cyclists and open vehicle doors with caution.
By staying aware of the presence of cyclists, drivers can do their part to keep everyone safe out on the road.