Love ‘em or hate ‘em, all the new bike lanes in downtown Victoria mean that more and more people are cycling to get around. Statistically, cyclists are far more injured by accidents with vehicles than motorists, but drivers are usually at fault. What can we as drivers do to make the roads safer for everyone?
Bikes Count as Vehicles
When bike lanes run out it is probably unsafe, and definitely illegal, for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. Cyclists have rights and responsibilities on the road, but drivers need to treat them with respect in order for traffic to flow properly.
Don’t Take Risks
It’s important to play it safe when it comes to cyclists. If you are uncertain about what they are doing, just wait instead of going forward. Avoid tailgating, and recognize that potholes, broken glass, or other road hazards may alter the cyclist’s course. Giving cyclists time and space to ride safely is the best way to go.
Bike Lanes Are For Cyclists
It’s important to leave bike lanes unobstructed. Parking in a bike lane means that cyclists will have to swerve around your vehicle, potentially causing an accident. Keep this in mind when pulling into intersections and out of parking lots.
Check Mirrors and Blind Spots
Whether you’re driving or parked, check your blind spots and mirrors before turning or opening a door. Getting “doored” is one of every cyclist’s biggest fears. When exiting a vehicle, a good trick is to reach around with the hand furthest from the door handle (right hand for drivers, left for passengers). This move is called the “Dutch Reach” and will force you to shoulder check for cyclists, avoiding potential accidents.
While you’re at it, make sure your headlights are functioning properly, as many cyclists don’t use lights at night. Get in touch if your headlights need fixing, or you need help with anything else.
Keep Bikes in Mind When Turning
When making a right turn, vehicles generally cross over bike lanes. Make sure to shoulder check before turning right, and always signal – cyclists are always paying attention to the turn signals of vehicles around them so they can stay out of the way. When turning left, make sure to wait for cyclists crossing the intersection from the other direction. Cyclists are often going faster than motorists think, and an emergency stop can be dangerous.
Usually cyclists aren’t going as fast as motorists. While this can be annoying, keep in mind that you don’t have the right to pass them at any time. Always leave appropriate space and pass them when it is safe and legal to do so. Remember, waiting an extra 30 seconds to pass a cyclist won’t impact your journey too much, but rushing past when before it’s safe could be disastrous.
Change Your Attitude
People often complain about how cyclists clog up the road, but remember that each bike on the road means one less car creating traffic. Everyone has a different reason for cycling, but we all are just trying to do the same thing: get to our destination quickly and safely.