Whether you drive a car or ride a bicycle for your mode of transportation, your safety on the road is important, as is your right to be on the road. Unfortunately, some motorists and bicyclists can’t seem to agree how to share the road, which has resulted in an increase of accidents involving bicycles and vehicles.
The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) reports that in Melbourne and rural Victoria, there were 11 bicycle deaths and 125 driver deaths during the 2014-2015 calendar year. According to a study by Adelaide University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research, four in every five crashes between cars and bicycles are caused by the driver. Despite the the grim statistics and the strong feelings for or against bicyclists, drivers and bicyclists can share the road safely and successfully.
Cycling safety & etiquette
In an effort to decrease the number of accidents involving cars and bicycles, the Centre for Road Safety urges cyclists to follow these tips in order to stay safer on NSW roads:
- Take the safer path: Whenever possible, bicyclists should take shared paths (a path for pedestrians and bicyclists), cycleways, and quieter streets for a safer alternate route. While bicyclists have the right to navigate the same road that other vehicles travel, cyclists must be more alert and aware; riding as if no one can see them.
- Be visible: While some drivers are hostile and aggressive towards bicyclists, others don’t pay close attention to anyone else on the road. If you are going to ride your bicycle on busy streets, with cars all around, it’s important to make yourself as visible as possible. Wear brightly colored and/or reflective clothing and always wear a helmet, no excuses.
- Follow the rules of the road: When you ride a bicycle, it is your “vehicle” and the rules of the road still apply to you. That means you don’t get to run a red light or stop sign (even if you look both ways) and you’re required to indicate your intentions, such as turns and stops, with hand signals. A substantial amount of your safety is your responsibility as a cyclist.
Motorist safety & etiquette
If you are one of the motorists who angrily gesture or yell at cyclists when you pass by, it’s time to let that aggressive behavior go. Bicycling is popular, for exercise and transportation, and it’s not going anyway any day soon. Many motorists do their best to share the road as respectfully as they can, but if you’re not sure how, here are some tips to keep you safe while sharing the road:
- Look for cyclists: First of all, if you don’t look for bicyclists, you need to start looking for them as you navigate the streets. Before you open your car door, make sure you look behind you to make sure a bicyclist doesn’t go flying into your door. Check your blind spots often, particularly when you’re turning or driving in a roundabout.
- Treat a cyclists equally: Bicyclists are expected to follow the rules of the road and have to right to share the road with other motorists. Use a little extra caution when driving near a cyclist. For instance, don’t follow too closely. Just because they have a smaller “vehicle” it doesn’t mean they don’t need or deserve space. Remember that bicyclists have very little protection, other than their helmets, and should not be treated with aggression.