Bicycling has always been a popular hobby and lifestyle for bike enthusiasts. With today's rising gas prices, struggling economy, and heightened awareness of environmental issues, many more people are choosing a bike for their daily commute, for recreation, or to run errands. Sadly, biking can be highly dangerous and often deadly. Cyclists should be well informed of laws and safety practices before hitting the road. However, no matter how safe a cyclist rides, their safety is ultimately in the hands of surrounding drivers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, about 700 cyclists die each year as a result of a traffic collision, making up 2 percent of all traffic fatalities nationwide. Some of these deaths may have been avoidable had the cyclist followed proper safety procedure or worn a helmet. However, just as many could have been prevented had the driver made the effort to share the road and keep the cyclist safe.
Cyclists often cite aggressive or intimidating displays of behavior from the drivers or passengers of motor vehicles, including:
- Throwing bottles, trash, and other objects
- Abruptly swerving in front of the cyclist or slamming on the brakes
- Shouting vulgarities
Other times, negligent actions by drivers can cause bicycle collisions. Keep cyclists safe by remembering these safety precautions:
- Unless turning left, bikers will usually ride as far to the right as possible. Keep an eye out for bikers in the far right lane to avoid a collision.
- Before opening your car door, check your mirrors and your blind spot to make sure that a cyclist is not approaching. Collisions with car doors can cause serious injury or even death to cyclists.
- Never park in the bike lane. This forces a biker to leave the bike lane and travel into an unsafe traffic lane.
- Check your blind spot before making a right hand turn to avoid turning in to a cyclist. In addition, always use your turn signal to warn bikers of your turn.
- Before making a left turn, check for cyclists approaching from the opposing lane. Just as another car would, the cyclist has the right of way in this situation.
- Give a cyclist plenty of room from behind to avoid running them over.
- Never drink and drive. Alcohol lowers your senses of perception and your ability to react in a timely manner, making you an even bigger threat to cyclists.