The arrival of Spring often means an increase in the number of motorcycles and bicycles on the road. Sharing the road with cyclists is an important part of being a safe, attentive, and defensive driver. Learn how to share the road safely using these seven safety tips.
1. Know the Hand Signals
Both bike riders and motorcyclists are likely to use hand signals to help indicate their next moves. Even on motorcycles with turn signals, many riders still use hand signals to help alert other drivers of their intentions.
Research common hand signals so you understand what they mean before you encounter a rider using them. You should also teach the hand signals to young or new drivers. Learning early on will make the new driver a better driver overall and could help prevent an accident.
2. Check Your Blind Spots
It’s important to always be aware of your blind spots. It’s even more important when motorcycles or bikes are present. Many newer vehicles have safety systems that can help you monitor your blind spot. A car blind spot monitoring system will buzz, beep or vibrate to let you know when something’s in your blind spot.
Don’t only rely on technology to watch your blind spots. Adjust your mirrors before putting your car in gear. As you’re driving, regularly check the areas around your car through your windows and mirrors. This could help you spot a biker or motorcycle rider before they enter your blind spots.
3. Give Plenty of Room
Give a motorcycle or bike plenty of room when you approach them on the road, especially if you’re approaching from the rear. A motorcyclist or biker may not see or hear your car coming up behind them. Slow down so you can share the road when coming up on a motorcycle or bike. Rear-ending a motorcycle or bike is much more dangerous than a car and could be fatal for the rider.
Most motorcycles will stay at the speed of traffic. Motorcycle riders might even pass you on the road. When being passed by a motorcycle, let off speed and — if safe — move to the far side of your lane to give the rider the most room for passing.
Bikes, on the other hand, often cannot keep up with traffic on most roads. Many roads feature a bike lane to give cyclists their own lane. On roads without a bike lane, remember that bike riders have a right to be on the road and give them the space they need. Many cyclists move out of the way when it’s safe for you to pass.
4. Use Caution When Passing
Have you ever broken down along the road and had to wait for help from roadside assistance? A car goes flying past. The gust of wind from the vehicle nearly knocks you off your feet.
This is the feeling motorcycle and bike riders could have if you pass them without caution. Part of sharing the road with bicycle and motorcycle riders is giving them space and slowing down when you pass. Only pass in areas where it’s safe and legal to do so. If possible, try to wait for confirmation from the rider that they see you. For example, many bike and motorcycle riders will wave a hand to indicate you can go around them.
5. Be Aware of Weather Conditions
Driving in bad weather is difficult. Imagine how much harder it is to ride a motorcycle or bike when it’s raining, snowing, or windy. Most bikers and motorcyclists try to hit the road when the weather is nice, but bad weather can be unpredictable.
Slow down if the weather takes a turn for the worse. If you know there was a bike or motorcycle on the road nearby before the weather got bad, check again so you know where they’re currently located.
Remember that wet roads and windy conditions can easily knock a rider off balance. Give cyclists even more space than usual in case a tire slips on a slick pavement or they’re blown off course by the wind.
6. Check for Others Before Exiting
You’re not done sharing the road after you’ve parked. Check your mirrors and blind spots around your car before exiting. This helps prevent you from opening your car door in front of a cyclist unexpectedly. Most bike lanes are located near parking on the side of the street. If you suddenly open your door, a cyclist could run into it or have to veer into the next lane of traffic to avoid it.
7. Cut Out Distractions
The number one way to help share the road and keep cyclists safe is to be more aware of your surroundings. You can do this by cutting out distractions as you drive. Put your phone away, secure any loose objects and avoid driving when you’re drowsy to help make the road safer for others.
Keep Yourself and Others Safe on the Road
You can make sharing the road safer before you even get into your car. For example, having the right amount of car insurance coverage could help you cover damages if you’re involved in an accident with a bike or motorcycle. Consider also reviewing common motorcycle rules of the road and bike rules of the road. These guidelines could help you be more aware of riders and anticipate their actions.
This could help prevent an accident — and even save someone’s life. Remember, accidents with cars are much more dangerous for motorcyclists and bicyclists. By doing your part to keep bike and motorcycle riders safe, you make the road a safer place for everyone.