Biking is seeing a renaissance: It’s healthy, ecofriendly and a fun way to get around. With Austin ranked by Bicycling.com as one of the “Best Bike Cities in America,” it’s no surprise we’re seeing more bicycles on the road than ever before. With the increase in bike traffic, it’s important that we as motorists remember to share the road safely.
Though you may feel confident driving around bicycles, it’s good to keep the following tips in mind to make sure everyone gets home safely.
Respect bike lanes
Austin is rapidly expanding the number of streets with dedicated bike lanes, and it’s important to obey the rules that protect these thoroughfares. Most rules that govern bike lanes are common sense: Only enter the bike lane at the end of a block to make a right turn, never park in a bike lane and be extra cautious when passing bicyclists.
If a bicyclist is on a road without a bike lane, give the rider at least three feet of clearance as you pass.
Drive slowly around bikes
Though most bicyclist who ride on the street take care to respect motorists and use hand signals to make their movements known, bikes can still be unpredictable. Something like someone opening a car door in their path could make a bicyclist swerve. So drive slowly behind bikes and only pass when you have ample opportunity.
Treat bikes like cars
Bicyclists are supposed to follow the same rules as motorists, so treat them like drivers. Yield to a bike in any instance in which you’d yield to a car. Don’t underestimate a bicyclist’s speed – making a right turn in front of a bike could be dangerous for both you and the biker.
Check before opening doors
A good way to seriously injure a bicyclist is to open your car door in his or her path. Always check your side mirror before exiting your vehicle. This is especially important when there is on-street parking to the right of a bike lane.
Know the power imbalance
Remember, bikers are vulnerable. Even if they’re wearing a helmet, a collision with a two-ton vehicle can cause devastating injuries to a biker. Always keep this in mind when you see bikes on the street.