Bicycle safety trends are startling. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2018, the fatality rate of cyclists surged 6.3 percent to an all-time high of 857 cyclists. The data indicate that deaths are predominately in urban areas and highlights the need for better urban bicycle infrastructure.
How to safely share the road with cyclists
When a motor vehicle collides with a bicycle, the consequences can be catastrophic. The following motor safety measures can lead to improved cyclist safety:
- Be patient. It is not a secret that cyclists and motorists sometimes have hostile interactions. Everyone’s priority is to get from point A to point B safely. Give the cyclist the right of way if the situation calls for it. If the lane is too narrow, or if there is oncoming traffic, wait until it is safe to pass.
- Take caution when turning. Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable when cars are turning. When turning right, a bicyclist might be riding straight into your path of travel. A left-hand turn is equally risky. An oncoming bicyclist might be approaching at a higher rate of speed than what appears. Your best bet is to yield to the cyclist and let them pass.
- Be mindful of your car door. Car “dooring” is a bicycle collision when the door of a parked car hits a cyclist. This kind of accident frequently occurs in urban areas where cars parallel park along the side of the road. After parking, take a moment to look over your shoulder to ensure there is not any bicycle traffic before opening the door.
- Understand bicyclist vulnerability. Bicyclists are significantly more vulnerable than motorists and, in an accident, they are at risk of fatal or severe injury. Vehicles have the advantage over cyclists in size, weight and speed. A twenty-pound bicycle is no match for a two-ton car. And remember, bicyclists are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and colleagues – they just happen to be traveling by bike.
It is possible to minimize the danger to cyclists if drivers take the proper precautions. Motor vehicles and bicycles can coexist on the road if drivers and cyclists alike practice safety protocols.