Bicyclists are entitled to share the road and drive on California roadways alongside vehicles, and motorists have an extra responsibility to use caution when traveling around them. This is mainly due to the fact that bicyclists are more vulnerable to accidents and injuries. Bicyclists are responsible for following the rules of the road, but just in order to reduce the chances of potential bike accident incidents in San Bernardino and throughout California, all drivers should adhere to the following driving safety tips:
Bike Safety Tip #1: Expect the Unexpected
When traveling around bicycles, you never know the skill level of the rider or the quality of the bike. Anything can happen. As you pass bicyclists or ride behind them, leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the bike. California uses the “three feet rule” to determine a safe distance between vehicles and bicyclists. Make sure your vehicle is at least three feet away from the bicyclist when you pass.
Look twice when you back out of a parking space or open doors after parallel parking. Bicyclists can ride in the roadway, but many ride as close to the shoulder or curb as possible. This position often hides them from view until they encroach on your vehicle. While they are technically supposed to ride a safe distance from parked vehicles, some bicyclists judge the distance poorly or are forced over by careless motorists. Using extra caution in areas known for bike travel can reduce bicycle accidents.
Bike Safety Tip #2: Understand Bicycle Signals
Experienced bicyclists will use signals to communicate with other bicyclists and with the traffic around them. Unfortunately, many vehicle drivers do not understand the signals. Traditional signals for bicyclists include:
- Left turn signal – Left arm extended straight out to the side.
- Right turn signal – Left arm extended out to the side, but bent up at the elbow. Some bicyclists may also indicate right hand turns by extending their right arm straight out to the side.
- Decelerating or stopping signal – Left arm extended straight down at the side of the bicycle.
Active.com provides a more extensive guide to bicycling hand signals here that you can familiarize yourself with.
Bicyclists should ride with traffic and try to make themselves visible to motorists on the roadway. They must follow all the rules of the road that motorists do, including making appropriate stops and yielding to oncoming traffic during right turns.
Bike Safety Tip #3: Navigate Intersections Carefully
Intersections are high risk areas for bicycle accidents. Use turn signals at all intersections, and give the cyclist room to maneuver if you are unsure about his or her movements. Many drivers turning right end up hitting cyclists in their blind spots who are planning to ride straight through the intersection.
Bike Safety Tip #4: Stay Off the Phone and Undistracted
California has some fairly strict cell phone laws, but some drivers still use their devices furtively. Bicyclist safety is a prime example for avoiding distractions on the roadways. You could cause a bike accident injury in a few distracted moments if you are not constantly aware of potential bicyclists around you. When you are driving around cyclists, it’s important to stay focused on the road.
Bike Safety Tip #5: Use Common Sense and Remain Courteous
Some drivers cannot stand the idea of sharing the road with bicyclists, but the activity offers several benefits. Bicycling is healthy for riders, good for the environment, and reduces the amount of vehicle traffic on the roadways. Bicyclists can legally share the road, so respect their decision to do so.
Do not honk at or take your frustration out on bicyclists. Rude behaviors may startle an unsuspecting bicyclist and increase the risk of accidents. Motorists are almost always held responsible in vehicle-related bicycle accidents.
If you want a different perspective about bicyclists on the roads, try riding a bicycle yourself. Traveling via bike may give you a newfound appreciation for cycling as a mode of transportation. The experience may also make you a safer driver, especially when driving around bicyclists.
We are Experienced Bike Accident Lawyers in San Bernardino
For more information about local bike laws and if you are involved in a bicycle accident throughout the Inland Empire, contact the San Bernardino bicycle accident attorneys at Estey & Bomberger, LLP today! (909) 693-3631