With weather cooling down in the Valley and the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, many people will take to the streets on a bike to get exercise from a social distance and enjoy the beautiful fall and winter temperatures. However, a surge in bike sales during the coronavirus pandemic also means that new and less experienced cyclists will be hitting the roads, leading to a potentially dangerous situation for both cyclists and drivers.
Road safety is the main priority at Rob Dollar Foundation, and a subject that is close to our hearts. Below you will find safety tips for cyclists and drivers as we learn to share the road and give each other space to prevent unnecessary accidents from occurring.
Always Wear a Helmet
While helmets might feel clunky or unnecessary at first, they are worth getting used to. Helmets greatly reduce the risk of head injuries or death. Whether you make a pilot error or collide with an external force, a properly fitting helmet can be the difference between walking away and waking up in the ER.
Wear Bright Colored Clothing
You may have seen cyclists on the road in bright colors of orange, yellow, blue or pink. These cycling outfits are meant to capture the eye and help you notice the cyclist as you drive by. Avoid neutral colors that might blend into the scenery or dark colors that are difficult to see at night. In this case, the flashier the better! Neon hues with reflective elements are ideal for both day and night cycling.
Be Sure to Listen
It might be tempting to listen to music while cycling to keep your energy levels up, but make sure you can hear other roadway users when you do. If you do choose to use earbuds, only keep one in. Ideally, though, you would leave the earbuds at home and enjoy the sounds of the great outdoors while keeping an ear out for motorists and other potential hazards.
Obey Traffic Signs and Signals
While it might seem like common sense, traffic signs and signals are there to protect you. Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights. Bicyclists are required to follow the same rules as motorists.
Check Your Equipment
A popped tire or broken chain can not only ruin a Sunday ride – it can also be a potential safety hazard. Give your bike a thorough check before hitting the road. In addition, a front white light and a rear red reflector are low-cost additions that can make you more visible to motorists at night. Make sure both are operational before heading out for your ride.
Be sure to signal your next move to follow cyclists and motorists the same way you would use your blinker if you were driving. Motion toward your next destination to give drivers an idea of where you’ll be going to avoid an impact.
Give Three Feet – It’s the Law!
Many motorists don’t know that they are legally obligated to give cyclists three feet of space when passing. That is the minimum. Ideally, motorists would give cyclists at least five feet of space for maximum safety, both for the driver and the cyclist.
Respect the Bike Lane
The bike lane is just for that – for bikes. Never enter a bike lane except in instances when you need to turn, enter or leave a roadway. Always check your mirrors and yield to bicyclists when you cross a bike lane.
Check Blind Spots
While mirrors are a great tool for checking if the coast is clear, bicycles can sometimes hide in blind spots. Looking over your shoulder and checking your side-view mirror are strong habits to help avoid a collision with a cyclist. Be extra attentive when turning right, as bicyclists tend to ride to the right of traffic.
Mind the Door Zone
If parallel parked, be careful opening your door into the bike lane or street as not to hit a passing cyclist with your door. Check your mirrors and look over your shoulder before opening your door – the same as you would if you were switching lanes or turning.
Use Turn Signals
Help cyclists anticipate your next move by using your turn signals, indicating to other roadway users your course of travel. The law requires you to signal at least 100 feet before you make your turn.
Yield to Pedestrians
Let’s not forget that some people on the road are on foot, in addition to cars and bicycles. Motorists are required to yield to pedestrians when they are crossing in both marked and unmarked crosswalks.
John Dollar is President of Rob Dollar Foundation, a Valley-based nonprofit the seeks to spread the word of road safety for both cyclists and motorists. To learn more, visit www.robdollarfoundation.org or like them on Facebook.