Sharing the Road: Tips for Cyclists and Motorists

By: Miovision Team | Jan 08, 2024
a cyclist riding in a bike lane down a road with several cars around them

Image source: Canva

 

Everybody, no matter how they’re traveling, deserves to arrive safely. Unfortunately, trying to share the road with bicycles remains a challenge for motorists—over 130,000 cyclists are injured in on-road crashes every year in the United States.

While the situation may seem less than ideal, there are several things both bicycle riders and car drivers can do to keep each other safe. By doing your part, you can make sharing the road easier for everyone and ensure your trip (and theirs) is always a safe one.

Keep reading to learn some helpful tips! 

 

6 Tips for Sharing the Road With Bikes

As a motorist, there is already a lot to worry about when you’re driving before bicycles get integrated into the mix. They can be hard to see, especially when you’re trying to navigate through congested traffic that’s common on a busy day. Here are some tips to help you share a road safely with cyclists. 

 

1. Maintain a Safe Distance

Always keep a safe following distance when sharing the road with bicycles. This means providing at least three feet of space between your vehicle and the cyclist to ensure their safety. This will give both parties enough room if something unexpected occurs, meaning a sudden shift or movement from either of you won’t result in an accident. 

 

2. Frequently Check Blind Spots 

Stay vigilant and consistently check your blind spots for cyclists, especially if you’re navigating busy urban traffic. Unlike larger vehicles, bicycles can easily go unnoticed. Before making any turns or changing lanes, check your blind spots using your mirrors while also doing a head check to avoid any collisions with potential cyclists! 

 

3. Use Caution at Intersections

Always exercise extra caution when approaching intersections. Cyclists may be less visible, especially if they are in a designated cyclist lane or positioned between vehicles. Slow down, scan the intersection thoroughly, and yield the right of way appropriately. You should treat cyclists with the same amount of caution as you would pedestrians. 

 

4. Respect Every Bike Lane

Be mindful of designated bike lanes and respect their purpose. Avoid driving or parking in these lanes, as they provide cyclists with a dedicated space for safer travel. You should also always check for cyclists before crossing or turning across bike lanes. Respecting these designated areas promotes a smoother flow of traffic, reduces conflicts, and contributes to a more cooperative and secure road-sharing experience.

a low-angle shot of someone crossing the road on a bike in a bicycle lane

Image source: Canva

 

5. Signal Clearly and Early 

Remember: communication is key on the road. Signal your intentions clearly and well in advance (i.e. 100 feet) to allow cyclists to anticipate your actions. Whether you’re doing a left turn, merging, or changing traffic lanes, deliberately using signals helps cyclists understand your next move and make wise choices around your vehicle.

 

6. Never Make Assumptions

When sharing the road with bikes, it’s a good idea to remain cautious and not expect them to always follow the rules or follow safe riding practices. As nobody is perfect and things go wrong occasionally, be prepared for them to weave, swerve, or perhaps even lose control of their balance. It’s also good to maintain a conservative approach when it comes to their knowledge of all traffic rules for both cars and bikes

 

6 Tips for Bicycle Riders Sharing the Road With Motor Vehicles 

Of course, as we mentioned, sharing the road requires a collaborative effort. This means cyclists need to do their part to keep themselves safe, ensuring they’re following all of the best practices they can when traveling around motorists. 

 

1. Be Visible and Predictable

As a cyclist, you should make yourself visible to drivers by wearing bright, reflective clothing and using lights on your bike and the bicycle helmet (especially in the dark). When signaling, do so clearly and well in advance to give motorists ample time to react. Predictability creates safety; helping drivers understand your movements will reduce the risk of accidents when sharing the road.

 

2. Follow Traffic Laws

As a cyclist, you must adhere to traffic signs and signals like any other road user. This means stopping at stop signs, obeying traffic lights, and using designated bike lanes whenever they are available. These rules and regulations were designed with safety in mind, so following them when sharing the road is essential.

 

3. Stay Alert and Aware 

You need to maintain situational awareness while cycling—stay vigilant to the movements of surrounding vehicles, pedestrians, and potential hazards. You might want to avoid distractions like headphones in busy traffic to help you stay alert, as this will enhance your ability to navigate the road safely and share it effectively with other users.

 

4. Practice Defensive Cycling

Defensive cycling” involves assuming that not all drivers can see you and being prepared for unexpected maneuvers. Stay clear of blind spots (especially around large vehicles) and give yourself space to react to sudden changes. Defensive cycling reduces accidents and ensures your safety while sharing the road with motorized vehicles.

Someone’s feet pedaling in a bike in a bike lane with motor vehicles on their left

Image source: Canva

 

5. Consider Traffic When Planning Routes

Plan your cycling route with safety in mind. Opt for roads with designated bike lanes or wide shoulders whenever possible. Choose routes that minimize high-speed traffic and busy intersections, prioritizing roads with lower speed limits and a cyclist-friendly infrastructure. You should try to steer clear of narrow streets where the risk of getting struck by a car door opening is higher! 

 

6. Try to Make Eye Contact 

Establish visual contact with drivers whenever possible, as it allows you to confirm that a driver has seen you and acknowledged your presence. Eye contact is crucial at intersections, during lane changes, or when navigating through traffic. It promotes mutual understanding and helps create a safer environment for cyclists and drivers alike.

 

Miovision Is Making Sharing the Road Easier 

It can be hard to learn to safely navigate roads with bicycles as a motorist and vice versa, but following these best practices can certainly help. However, municipalities also need to facilitate safe travel by equipping their road networks with the right technology. 

Miovision’s intelligent transportation offerings are making roads a safer place for motorized vehicles, bicycles, public transit, and pedestrians. From video detection to intersection monitoring, our services provide municipalities with what they need to improve travel for everyone, no matter how they choose to move from one place to another. 

Request a quote today to make sharing the road easier in your city!