Everyone on roadways shares a responsibility to protect the safety of others. For people behind the wheel of a car or truck, protecting the safety of bicyclists riding with traffic can be particularly important because people riding a bike are relatively unprotected. What steps can drivers take to protect the safety of the cyclists on the road?
1. Stay alert.
Because bicycles are relatively small, drivers need to remain alert to see bicycle riders and respond to their actions.
2. Take care when opening your door.
You might think that a parked car would be less of a risk to cyclists, but an open or opening door can also be a hazard. Cyclists can hit an open door or swerve into traffic to avoid it. These injuries are also surprisingly common—they account for between 10 and 15 percent of cyclist injuries, according to some studies.
3. Use your signals.
Cyclists can only prepare for a driver’s actions if the driver communicates their plans. Drivers should take extra care to communicate their intended turns and lane changes early so that cyclists have time to adjust.
4. Give cyclists plenty of space.
The Washington State Department of Licensing states that drivers should give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when driving near them. That distance should increase in inclement weather because of the way that wind, slippery patches and other hazards can impact a cyclist’s ability to steer.
It is also important to give extra space to children on bicycles. Even when they ride alongside an adult, children can be unpredictable. It is important for drivers to provide young cyclists with extra space in case they suddenly change direction or fall.
By taking care around cyclists, drivers can keep everyone on Washington’s roadways safer.