How to Travel Safely Around Bicyclists

While cars and bicycles have an equal right to use the road, they are anything but equal when the two collide. Bicycles don’t have the weight, bumpers, cages, seat belts, and airbags of cars. Their thin two wheels make them less stable and more sensitive to road debris and damaged pavement. Although bicyclists might briefly inconvenience the hurried motorist, their vulnerability means they require special consideration. Here are three tips on driving safely around them:

Be Patient with Them

Bicyclists that sometimes slow you down are people, like those you socialize and work with. Acting out on feelings of frustration by harassing or using your horn in anger may startle them and cause their loss of control.

Avoid Distraction

Bicycles are harder to see than other vehicles. They are more prone to making erratic maneuvers. Seeing and safely getting by them requires alertness that you won’t have when using your cell phone or texting. Focus is especially important at intersections where a bicyclist may make a left turn in front of you.

Be Aware of Common Bicycling Hazards

While bicyclists make an effort to stay as far right as they safely can, understand that they can’t always safely ride on the shoulder, which is often full of debris including nails that can puncture tires. Learn to recognize common situations that cause them to ride closer to the center of the lane. These include:

  • Riding further to the left at higher speeds. When going downhill, bicyclists typically ride further to the left. This provides extra safety distance from the edge of the road. Riding off the road at a high speed can be fatal.
  • Riding further to the left when passing parked cars. Cars parked on the side of the road endanger bicyclists because the occupants sometimes open their doors without checking. Serious injury can result when a door is suddenly pushed open in front of a bicyclist.
  • Moving to the left to avoid dangerous grates. At the very least, grates are slippery when wet. At worst, the cyclist’s front tire can lodge in them and throw the person over the handle bars.

If you were injured on your bicycle because of a motorist, seek the legal advice of an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer. For a free consultation regarding your case, don’t hesitate to contact us.