Cycling, biking, road biking, bicyclists. We have all seen them on the road and some drivers may even be annoyed by their presence on the road. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there has been an ever-growing population of cyclists on the road, nearly doubling in this time frame. There are a few important things that drivers must consider and remember about road bikers to ensure the safety of all involved.
- Bicyclists have every right to be on the road. This is probably the most important thing for drivers to keep in mind. Remembering that they must share the road with cyclists will help to reduce the annoyance felt by drivers having to share the road and will help to keep drivers alert to the possibility of cyclists on the road.
- Cyclists must follow the same rules as drivers. Cyclists must stop at red lights, stop signs, and use hand signals when turning. Drivers should be aware at stops and check for cyclists in addition to other vehicles before moving forward or making a turn.
- (Re)Learn hand signals. It has probably been a long time since you have had driver’s education course. You may remember having spent a brief moment learning about hand signals that may be used by cyclists, motorcyclists, or drivers with non-functioning brake lights or turn signals. But you may not remember what those signals were. Drivers should be aware of the signals so that they can understand upcoming moves a cyclist will make.
- Left Turn: Left arm straight out.
- Right Turn: Left arm bent upward at a 90-degree angle.
- Stop/ Slowdown: Left arm bent downward in a 90-degree angle.
- Allow ample space when passing a bicyclist. To avoid swiping or colliding with a cyclist, drivers should only pass when they have ample roam between themselves and the biker. Florida law requires that drivers maintain a minimum of 3 feet between their vehicle and road bikers. If maintaining this distance is not possible, then drivers cannot pass a road biker. They will need to slow down and stay behind the cyclist until a time at which the road opens up, allowing the mandated distance for passing.
- Avoid distractions while driving. As a general safety rule while driving, drivers should limit the distraction from their focus on the road like changing the radio station, taking or making a phone call, checking for messages, or attempting to reach something that dropped or slid off a seat. If you must take your eyes off the road, take a thorough look around and ahead to ensure there are no bicyclists, or other potential dangers, before doing so. Limit the glance off the road to just that – a glance. You can travel a great distance in that time and a lot can change on the road.
- Remember to check for cyclist when you are parked. When pulled off to the side of the road or parking curbside, drivers should keep in mind that a cyclist could be coming up behind them and should check their rear view mirrors and even take a glance over their shoulder to ensure the way is clear before opening their door or pulling out of their spot.