With millions of miles of roads out there, it will take time before bike lanes are universal. In the meantime, keep in mind that cyclists are legally required to drive on roads and as a driver you are legally required to treat bicycles as you would any other vehicle on the road.
According to the NHTSA, there were 783 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2017. When a crash occurs between a vehicle and a bike, it’s the cyclist who is most likely to be injured.
1. Regardless of the season, bicyclist deaths occurred most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
2. Bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (75%) compared to rural areas (25%) in 2017.
3. Bicyclist deaths were 8 times higher for males than females in 2017.
4. Alcohol was involved in 37% of all fatal bicyclist crashes in 2017.
All states require bicyclists on the roadway to follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorists. Both drivers and bicyclists must share the responsibility of keeping each other safe on roadways.
As a driver, here’s what you can do to share the road safely with bikes:
- Eliminate all distractions. Focus on the primary task of driving your vehicle. Keep your phone down, eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.
- Yield to bicyclists as you would motorists and do not underestimate their speed. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.
- In parking lots, at stop signs, when packing up, or when parking (especially parallel parking), search your surroundings for other vehicles, including bicycles.
- Drivers turning right on red should look to the right and behind to avoid hitting a bicyclist approaching from the right rear. Stop completely and look left-right-left and behind before turning right on red.
- Slow down: Reduce your speed when approaching and passing a cyclist. This also lets tailing drivers know there’s reason to slow down ahead.
- Give cyclists room. Do not pass too closely. Pass bicyclists as you would any other vehicle—when it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane.
- Be extra cautious around child cyclists: Expect the unexpected when you see a child on a bike. Slow to a safer speed and give them as much room as you safely can.
- Look for the signals: Keep an eye out for the left turn, right turn, and stop signals given by cyclists.
If an accident happens
Bicycles are considered vehicles, so if you’re in an accident with a cyclist, follow the same procedure as you would any other accident. Pull over as soon as it’s safe, call the police, and exchange insurance information. Make sure medical help is on the way if there’s any sign of injury.
Casey, Devoti & Brockland is a St. Louis-based law firm focused exclusively on personal injury litigation. Since 1983, our attorneys have helped injured people navigate the road to recovery by securing compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages. Together Partners Matt Casey, Matt Devoti and Anne Brockland have nearly 50 years of trial experience handling the following personal injury matters: car, truck and train crashes, victims of impaired and distracted driving, medical malpractice, birth injuries, product liability, premises liability, elder and sexual abuse, Workers’ Compensation and wrongful death. We proudly serve clients throughout metropolitan St. Louis, southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois.
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