Even though the cyclist is the physical loser, no sane driver wants to live with the after effects of having driven into and hurt a cyclist. As a companion to the safety tips for cyclists in my earlier post, here are some tips for drivers. To help folks make smart decisions, we have adapted the Ten Safety Tips for Drivers from David Zabriske’s Yield to Life for Idaho riders.
1. Different but Equal:
Cyclists are drivers of vehicles and entitled to use the road. Expect cyclists on the road. Watch for them. Treat bikes like any other slow-moving vehicle. In Idaho the rules at stop signs (bikes yield) and stoplights (bikes can proceed after stopping if safe) are different for cyclists than cars. These rules enhance safety.
2. Patience, not Patients:
Patience is a virtue. It can save lives. Cars will ALWAYS “win” in a conflict with a bicycle. Patience can involve; Waiting until it is safe to pass a bicycle; 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 are dangerous for cyclists and providing enough space to deal with hazards. When hazards are present cyclists are allowed to ride closer to the lane of traffic, and even in the lane of traffic. Don’t let a poorly behaved cyclist ruin your day. Understand that cyclists are people too and most are responsible. Let the police handle the bad ones.
3. Pass Smartly:
Do not pass a cyclist until you can do so safely. Allow at least 3 feet between your vehicle and the bike and make sure you do not place the cyclist in danger.
4. Right Turns:
Watch out for cyclists when turning right. A cyclist may well be to the right of you and planning to go straight at the same intersection. Do not speed ahead of a cyclist thinking you can negotiate the turn before they reach your car. Cyclists often are going faster than you think. As you slow to make a turn, the cyclist may not be able to avoid crashing into the passenger side of your vehicle.
5. And Left Turns:
Look for cyclists when making a left-hand turn. Cyclists crossing straight in the opposite direction are often going faster than you realize.
6. Back-up Plans:
Bicycles, and the people who ride 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 can be hard to see. Drive slowly and look carefully.
7. Door Dangers:
After parking, look before opening the car door to exit. Make sure there are no cyclists riding alongside you or approaching. By using the rear view mirrors and turning around, a driver can spot a cyclist and circumvent a disaster. A cyclist often can’t see a driver who is about to open a door, but a driver can easily detect a cyclist who may be in the line of danger.
Cyclists are traffic; they are also your neighbors–policemen, carpenters, doctors–people from all walks of life. Be thankful-seeing a cyclist means one less car on the road.
9. Hold Off On The Horn:
It is usually NOT helpful to honk when you are passing a cyclist. It often creates danger because the noise itself can cause a cyclist to lose his or her bearings. If you must honk do it at a respectful distance.
10. Try it, You’ll Like it:
Join them. Ride a bike. It may just change your life. Riding is good for you and good for your environment.