Some motorists simply need an attitude adjustment when it comes to sharing the road with bicycles. Or just a bit more empathy. Bicyclists know that. And motorists must understand that bicyclists are not going away.

Coexisting and sharing the road is essential in the current and future transportation environment. Remember that the law is also on the bicyclist’s side as they have every right to be on the road. Awareness is crucial and can help avoid the occasional spats that surface between motorists and cyclists.

Turns, yield and clearance

Here are some key points that motorists must subscribe to:

  • Bike lanes are not obstructions for motorists. They are part of the road, and bicyclists share the same road rights as motorists. It can be dangerous when bicyclists ride close to the road’s edge as they are subject to being “doored” by a driver exiting a parked car. Cyclists also are subject to spills due to uneven payment, sand and debris on the side of the road.
  • Yield to cyclists when making left turns or entering roads from driveways and side streets.
  • When preparing for right turns, watch for cyclists, signal your turn and merge to the road’s edge. Wait for bicyclists who are in front of you to clear the intersection before completing your turn. Avoid the potentially deadly “right hook” by turning across the bicyclist’s path.
  • The law allows bicyclists to use the road. Yes, there are some bicyclists who ignore traffic rules just as there are motorists who ignore the same laws. Unfortunately, this happens. But the law still allows bicyclists on the road.
  • Motorists must give bicyclists 3 feet of clearance. California is one of several states that have such a law on its books. In 2014, California implemented the “Three Feet for Safety Act.” Motorists must maintain a 3-foot space when passing bicyclists.

Bicycles have become more prominent on U.S. streets in the past 40 years. Their growth in popularity can be attributed to more recreational bicyclists as well as people who rely on them for primary transportation. Drivers must understand that coexistence with bicyclists equates to roadway harmony. And, when you get the chance, share this information with your driving friends.