We were sadly reminded this week of the dangers facing cyclist anytime they share the road with motor vehicles. Two bike riders were hit this week in Salt Lake County– one seriously injured and the other killed (a hit-and-run). The immediate response of all cyclist is anger and frustration. Though every ride carries a certain risk, bike riders still expect to be safe as long as they follow basic rules of the road. These unfortunate accidents prove every ride may be life-altering. The young woman killed was apparently doing everything right: lights, helmet, and riding in the bike lane. The search is still on to find the motorist who fled the scene.
Recognizing that the number of auto/bike accidents are likely to increase with the growing number of bikes on the road, with the increasing popularity of cycling, the Utah Department of Transportation, Department of Safety, and bike advocacy groups in Utah have organized a week-long bike tour through the entire state of Utah named the Road Respect Tour beginning June 13 in Logan concluding in St. George on June 18. The goal is to help increase respect among motorists and cyclists.
In connection with the Road Respect Tour, Cycling Utah, June 2011 has published the following Rules of the Road—Tips for Cyclists and Motorists. Hopefully, enough travelers– both cyclists and motorists– will review these tips and take them to heart. We need to turn things around to avoid needless accidents!
Tips for cyclists
• When not impeding traffic, ride no more than two abreast. When a car is coming or when you are riding in traffic, ride single file.
• Obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. If you want the respect of motorists, you must show respect for traffic laws.
• Ride predictably.
• Ride with the flow of traffic.
• Ride on the right side of the roadway or bike lane as far to the right side as safely possible.
• It is acceptable to ride in the middle of the lane if you are making a left turn, if there are obstacles impeding the bike lane or if you are moving at the same speed as traffic.
• Don’t weave between parked cars or cars stopped at red lights.
• Wear bright clothing that increases your visibility to motorists.
• When riding at dusk or dark, use reflective clothing and lights.
• Always wear a helmet. Your helmet should sit level on your head and the straps should be snug.
• Make eye contact with motorists when making a turn or changing lanes, so each party is aware of one another.
• When entering or crossing a road from a parking lot, driveway or crosswalk, or when changing lanes or leaving the shoulder, yield to vehicles already on the road.
• Signal when turning.
• Be respectful of other road users. Courtesy is contagious. Always be a bike ambassador on the road!
Tips for motorists
• Give at least three feet of space when passing a bicyclist. If traveling on higher-speed roads, give more space.
• Watch for bicycles in traffic; they are smaller and harder to see.
• Don’t underestimate the speed of a bicyclist. Many bicyclists can easily travel at 25-30 mph.
• Slow down around cyclists.
• When driving near a child on a bike, be prepared for the unexpected.
• When turning left, yield to any vehicle, including a bicycle approaching from the opposite direction.
• When turning right and passing a cyclist, leave plenty of room between cyclists who are also turning right. Do not pass the cyclist and turn in front of them.
• Be patient when driving around cyclists. Roadway conditions may make it necessary for cyclists to ride in the middle of the lane because of potholes, road debris, or a parked vehicle.
• Be aware of your surroundings and don’t drive distracted.
• Be aware of bicyclists entering the roadway from driveways, intersection sidewalks and other streets.
• Avoid honking your horn around cyclists, if possible. Car horns are much louder outside of your vehicle and can startle bicyclists and cause dangerous reactions.
• Be respectful of other road users. Courtesy is contagious.