As bicycles continue their popularity as an alternative to vehicle transportation, SEH traffic engineer Heather Kienitz shares some simple advice for drivers to achieve harmony out on the road with bicyclists.
1. Watch for bicyclists when turning right.
Motorists often don’t see bicyclists coming up behind them at intersections. Use your turn signal so bicyclists know you’re turning. This is one of the most common bicycle related crashes, and it’s easily avoidable.
2. Watch for bicyclists when turning left.
Motorists look at gaps in oncoming motor vehicle traffic to turn left but don’t always look for the oncoming bicyclist or the bicyclist or pedestrian within the crosswalk of the street they are turning onto.
3. Give them some space.
Many states, including Minnesota, require motorists give bicyclists at least three feet of space, which is especially important when passing them.
4. Take a look in your side mirror before getting out of your vehicle.
A surprising number bike accidents happen when they collide with a motorist’s open car door. They call it “getting doored,” and the resulting injuries are often serious.
5. People on bikes are much more vulnerable than cars.
A bike weighs 20 pounds, whereas a car weighs 2,000 pounds or more!
6. Know bicyclists' rights.
Motorists often don’t know bicyclists have the right to use most of the same streets motorists do and that bicyclists also have to follow the same laws as motorists.
7. Adjust our attitudes.
Sometimes motorists view bicyclists as a nuisance, or “in their way.” Think of them as another person, a friend or family member, not an obstacle to get around on your way home.
8. Think of the benefits.
Bikes don’t pollute, and they lessen traffic congestion. Each bicyclist means one less car on the road. And they don’t create potholes.
9. Stay off your mobile device while driving and bicycling.
Distracted driving takes your attention away from the road and results in 8 deaths and over 1,100 injuries every day in the United States. *
10. Get used to it.
Bicycle use is on the rise in cities across the country. And that means we’ll be sharing our streets more and more.
Heather Kienitz, PE, is a traffic engineer with 18 years of experience. Heather specializes in multimodal complete streets planning and design, design of pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and traffic impact analysis. Contact Heather