It’s Bike to Work (and School) Week here in BC, an annual event to promote sustainable commuting that runs from May 28 to June 3 in 2018. While this affair celebrates cycling as an alternative form of transportation, it also draws attention to a concern beyond one’s carbon footprint. ICBC warns that six cyclists are injured every day in the summer in British Columbia and, in the Lower Mainland an average of 1,100 cyclists are injured each year, with interactions with automobiles being a primary cause of accidents. As we enter the summer season, now is a prime time for drivers to prepare themselves for the seasonal wave of cyclists that will be sharing the road in the months to come.
6 Tips to Safer Driving When Sharing the Road with Cyclists
1. Keep a Safe Distance
Drivers must maintain a minimum of a three-second distance when traveling behind a cyclist. If it’s raining or foggy, or the road is wet for any reason, make it four to five seconds. When passing, be sure to keep at least one metre of distance between your vehicle and the cyclist, otherwise you risk side-swiping them, or running them off of the road.
2. Drive Distraction Free
It’s enough to have to worry about the other vehicles on the road, but when there are cyclists using the same lanes, your concerns are compounded. It’s much harder to see an approaching cyclist, and just as challenging (if not more) to anticipate their next move given that they can stop or turn on a dime. Because of this, you need to be more mindful and drive without any distraction whatsoever. Avoid these common distracted driving habits, and pay close attention to these less common ones too.
3. Best Practices When Turning or Entering a Roadway
Get into the habit of shoulder checking for cyclists before turning right, and watch out for oncoming cyclists before turning left. In addition, scan the area for cyclists before you enter the roadway from a side street, alley, junction, or parking spot. Given that bikes can easily hide behind other vehicles or in your blind spot, be sure to use your mirrors and perform a shoulder check before you make a move.
4. Yield the Right of Way
Be patient when it comes to sharing the asphalt with your two-wheeled road companions. Stay alert at all times, especially at intersections, and yield the right-of-way. If you need to cross over a designated bike lane make sure that you signal well in advance.
5. Look for Their Cues and Signals
While it can be difficult to anticipate a cyclist’s actions, they do give unspoken cues to their intentions. For example, if you see a cyclist ahead look over their shoulder, the act could mean that they‘re about to turn or change direction, at which point you should give them the time and space to do to so. In addition, refresh your knowledge of official bike hand signals:
It’s also important to understand that not all cyclists will use pronounced hand signals, opting for a more relaxed arm position instead. Take note of any arm movement that could be taken to be one of the above designated hand signals, and prepare for the left/right turn, or for them to stop or slow down. Better to be excessively safe than sorry.
6. Look Before Opening Your Car Door
If you’ve ever ridden a bike passed parked cars then you know the uneasy feeling of seeing a driver preparing to exit the vehicle as you approach. Moving forward, put yourself in the position of a cyclist before exiting your vehicle. Dooring, the official ICBC term for this concern, is actually the cause of one in 14 cyclist accidents in BC, and falls under the Motor Vehicle Act section 203(1) which can result in a fine and 2-points. Make sure that you and your passengers look outside of the vehicle for approaching cyclists before opening the door and stepping out.
With yet another challenge to consider before hitting the roads this summer, or any time of the year for that matter, you will want to make sure that your automobile insurance policy is not only up to date, but is as comprehensive as possible. Contact an independent insurance broker at Park Insurance today for an assessment.