Safely Sharing the Road
As the weather warms up and promises of dryer weather abound, more and more people will be dusting the cobwebs off of their 10 speeds and blissfully biking around town. Some prefer to swap out their car for a bicycle for their summertime commute, especially during Bike to Work Week, while others will be cycling through town for pleasure.
Regardless of the reason for logging extra hours on the bike, the reality is that this increase in cyclists on the road results in an increase in cyclist-related accidents and personal injury claims.
It is absolutely crucial that operators of motor vehicles and cyclists alike are aware of each other. There are numerous cautionary steps that a driver should take to ensure that they are being as safe as possible while sharing the road with cyclists.
We plan to explore “sharing the road” issues in next week’s article of Road Rules. Similarly, cyclists are responsible for ensuring that they are doing everything that they can to follow the rules of the road and avoid injury.
Some cyclists are under the impression that it is merely frowned upon to ride on the sidewalk, when it may be in some cities and municipalities against the law. Often, however, traffic conditions make cycling on the roadway suicidal so a true dilemma is created.
Also of note is that there seems to be a fair amount of people who still consider helmets an optional safety precaution. However, helmet laws are in force and are designed to protect cyclists from suffering a brain injury.
Another issue that can result in serious injury for cyclists is dooring. Although drivers are primarily responsible for being careful about when and where they open their car doors, cyclists can take steps to protect their own safety as well.
While it can be extremely difficult to predict when a driver will open their car door, cyclists should be hypervigilant when passing cars that have recently parked, or are still running. Taking a wide birth around the car where possible or slowing down if the driver seems as though they may open their door can help to avoid dooring.
Be A Savvy Cyclist
Living in a metropolitan area can certainly mean an increased risk for cyclists on the road, but there are benefits as well. For example, there have been specific zones identified in high-traffic routes that are notorious for dooring. This can help you remember to take caution when taking these routes, or avoid them altogether.
If you are biking a new route and want to ensure that you will have access to safe bike lanes, you can go online and plan ahead.
Using your own discretion as a cyclist is just as important as abiding by all of the rules of the road. For instance, on a quiet suburban street with no cars around, it may not feel as important to use hand signals to let others know your intention. While it is still recommended that cyclists use their hand signals on any roads, it is true that this may not be necessary on a seawall. Riding your bike should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, but a cyclist should never forget that they are vulnerable on the road and the best defense is a good offense.
Road Rules by Cedric Hughes and Dominique McCrimmon