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How drivers can help keep cyclists safe

Cycling has become more popular than ever. As our roads accommodate a growing number of cyclists, it’s crucial for drivers to understand how to share the space safely. Whether you’re a seasoned driver or new behind the wheel, these guidelines can help you navigate the streets with confidence and consideration for cyclists on the road.

Understanding cyclist behavior

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists on most roads. They often ride in bike lanes or on the right side of the road, but may need to move into traffic lanes to avoid hazards or make turns. Recognizing these patterns can help drivers anticipate cyclist movements and react accordingly.

Maintaining awareness

Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents involving cyclists. Put away your phone, adjust your music before starting your journey and stay focused on the road. Always check your blind spots and mirrors, especially before turning or changing lanes.

Proper passing techniques

When passing a cyclist, give them at least three feet of space. If it’s not safe to pass, be patient and wait until you can do so without endangering the cyclist or the oncoming traffic. A few seconds of delay is worth preventing a potential tragedy.

Respecting bike lanes

Bike lanes are designated for cyclists’ safety. Do not drive or park in these lanes. Crossing into a bike lane can startle a cyclist and cause an accident. Be mindful of bike lane markings.

Intersection caution

Intersections are hotspots for collisions. Always look for cyclists before turning, particularly when making right turns. Cyclists may travel faster than you expect, so take an extra moment to ensure the coast is clear.

Nighttime vigilance

Visibility decreases significantly after dark. Be extra cautious during these hours, as cyclists may be harder to spot. Look for reflective gear and bike lights, but don’t assume all cyclists will have them.

Alertness in poor weather

Bad weather conditions make it harder for both drivers and cyclists to see and be seen. Rain, fog or snow can reduce visibility and make roads slippery. Slow down and increase your following distance in such conditions.

Creating a safer environment for all road users requires a collective effort. By practicing these habits and fostering mutual respect between drivers and cyclists, you can help reduce the risk of collisions and make our roads safer for everyone.