Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists on the road. (Vehicle Code 21220(a)). Here are some helpful hints for motorists: •What to Expect – By law, bicyclists should ride in the same direction as car traffic. However, you should also be on the lookout for uneducated bicyclists on the sidewalk and moving in the opposite direction from car traffic. Also be on the lookout for small children on bicycles, moving at the speed of pedestrians.
•Give Adequate Space – In conditions where there is not enough room for the bicyclist to ride to the right, they are allowed in the lane of traffic.
•Passing – Wait until it is safe to pass a bicyclist. You should allow ample space between your vehicle and the bicyclist. If you pass too closely, the draft from your car can pull a bicyclist off course and cause the rider to swerve out of control. Thus, the three foot rule is recommended – give the bicycle a minimum of three feet when passing.
•Turning Right – Watch out for bicyclists when turning right. A bicyclist may be to the right of you and planning to go straight at the same intersection. The bicyclist may be going faster than you think. As you slow to make the turn, the bicyclist may not be able to avoid crashing into the passenger side of your car.
•Turning Left – Look for bicyclists when making a left hand turn. Bicyclists who are crossing straight through the same intersection in the opposite direction may be going faster than you realize.
•Backing Up – When backing out of your driveway, look to see if someone is riding (or walking) in your path. Children on bikes are especially hard to see. LOOK BOTH WAYS before backing up.
•Check the Door Zone – After parallel parking, use the rear view mirror and turn around to look for bicyclists riding along side of your car or approaching quickly, before opening the door.
•Honk Only When Necessary – If the need arises to honk your horn to alert a bicyclist that you are about to pass, do so at a respectful distance. Honking too close may cause the bicyclist to lose his bearing and create a hazardous situation for you both.
•Signaling – Always use turn signals before turning, changing lanes or pulling out from the curb.
Published: March 27, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 50