If you have been either a motorist negotiating a narrow street with a cyclist or someone who’s ridden a bicycle on a busy roadway, you already know how nerve-wracking the experience can be. Safety for autos and bicycles is important. There are steps you can take to make your journey safer, no matter what your mode of transportation may be.
Sharing the Roadways
In Florida, those who ride bicycles on the roadways must obey the same traffic laws as motorists. Even though cyclists are more vulnerable, they are driving a vehicle, so to speak, and must adhere to the laws of the road. In the same fashion, motorists need to respect the rights of cyclists, just as they would another vehicle. When autos and bicycles are on crowded roadways, it is important for each to be aware of the other and practice courtesy.
Cyclists must realize they do not have special treatment because they are riding bicycles. Weaving in and out of traffic is hazardous. In fact, cyclists should be even more aware of their surroundings, because unexpected things can happen in the blink of an eye. For example, riding alongside parked cars is common and sometimes an absolute necessity. However, when someone who’s parked suddenly opens a door on the driver’s side, not realizing the proximity of the bicycle, the cyclist has to make a split-second decision.
Caught unaware, the cyclist might veer out into traffic on the left side. This could be a serious problem, depending on the traffic flow. If instead, the cyclist hits the door, again, the result could be devastating, depending on the traffic.
Whether in motion or parked, those in cars need to take special precautions when bicycles are near. If you know you are parked in an area where there are likely to be cyclists, look before opening your door. If you are in motion, and there is a cyclist between you and the cars parked on the side of the road, leave room for the cyclist to move out of the way should someone open a door.
Practice Patience with Autos/Bicycles
Whether you are driving or pedaling, it’s important to be patient when you are on the road. Lack of patience can lead to serious problems, and people getting hurt. In an incident that occurred this summer in Los Angeles, a driver was pulled from his car by a group of angry cyclists, after he bumped one of them.
In this incident, a group of about 50 cyclists were crossing the intersection, and some of the cyclists stopped traffic against the light so the entire group could cross. The motorist became impatient and slightly bumped a cyclist as he tried to make his turn. Neither bike nor rider was injured, however, the crowd of cyclists became incensed. This is an example of disrespect on both sides.