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Preventing Collisions with Cyclists

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

It’s the time of year when we will start to see bicycle riders. After all, bicycling is one of the most popular activities in the U.S., with millions of Americans forgoing their vehicles to pedal to their destination.

Sadly, hundreds of cyclists are killed every year in auto collisions. Some fatalities are the fault of the cyclist however, most occur because the drivers of motor vehicles are not paying attention or ignore the rights of cyclists. Help make the streets safer for bicyclists by following the "rules of the road.

Respect the rights of bicyclists

Every state in the U.S. has some version of the following as part of its traffic laws: “Bicycle riders on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists and are subject to the same rules and regulations.”

Put yourself in the biker’s position

Modern bikes weigh an average of around 20 lbs. and offer zero protection in a collision. Cars and light trucks typically weigh one or two tons, or more, and have multiple safety features built into them.

Practice “bike safety” driving

· Stay alert for the presence of cyclists, especially at night

· Give cyclists at least three feet of clearance (many states require this)

· Don’t accelerate when passing cyclists; slow and steady is the correct approach

· Always check your mirrors and blind spots for the presence of cyclists

· Signal your intentions before changing lanes or making a turn

· Don’t honk your horn at cyclists unless it is necessary to avoid a collision

Leading Causes of Car/Bike Collisions

Collisions between motorists and bicycles can happen due to many reasons:

Some collisions occur when a driver opens their door so suddenly that the cyclist has no time to react. It can also happen when an unseen biker suddenly pulls in front of a moving vehicle.

Traffic lights can cause collisions in several different ways. A cyclist stopping next to a vehicle may end up in the driver’s blind spot. Large trucks can hide the presence of a cyclist from other motorists. Cyclists may try to pull out ahead of traffic when the light turns green.

Cyclists fear rear end collisions more than any other because they usually have no way of seeing or anticipating the collision, which can happen while the cyclist is moving or stopped.

All of us have a responsibility to ride/drive safely to avoid fatal collisions. For bikers, it means adhering to their rules of the road. For motorists, it always means respecting the rights of cyclists and staying alert.

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