With our current climate being what it is, many people are becoming more environmentally conscious and are choosing to cycle instead of drive to reduce pollution and save gas money. This is having the effect of many more cyclists being on the road.
Know How Cyclist Behave on the Road
When driving along roads with bike lanes, lookout for where they end and what happens at intersections. You may find that turning left means you either cut into the lane or need to give way to any cyclist going straight.
Cyclists can differ from being quite skilled to near incompetent, and besides age – for young children – there can be little to give a clear indication of what you are dealing with. It is best to treat every cyclist as different. Take note of how they ride and modify your driving to match the situation.
Watch for Hand Signals
Cyclists have a variety of hand signals to allow drivers to know what their intentions are. You should familiarise yourself with these signals and what they mean. The most common signals are:
- Left turn – left arm straight out
- Right turn – right arm straight out
- Stopping – right arm up, bent 90 degree at the elbow
In most states it is a legal requirement for cyclists to use signals when merging right or performing a right turn.
Don’t use your horn as you pass cyclists. This can startle them and end up causing an accident. Most cyclists are more than aware that drivers are on the road. If you need to pass and the road is tight, you should slow down and fall in behind the cyclist. When the road is clear, and you are able to give them the required space as is legal in your state, you should pass if it is safe to do so.
Make Room for Cyclists
The rules for cyclist and how to drive around them change every now and then. If it has been a while since you got your licence you should check up on the required space that you need to give them. However, as a general rule try to pass giving them at least half of the lane you are driving in. It can be very easy to clip a rider with your mirrors. Think about how much distance you’d prefer if you were riding on the road.
Be Mindful of Younger Cyclists
Many young riders can be especially ignorant of the road rules. If you are driving behind younger riders, don’t expect them to follow road rules, or signal or even be aware of other road users. You should take every precaution and give them more room if you need to pass.
Often cyclists may ignore road rules and while frustrating, the onus is on the car and truck driver to be mindful and protect these vulnerable road users. You should think of them as fast moving pedestrians. Don’t worry about what is happening and what the rules might say, drive in the moment and focus on what is happening.
While governments are catching up and placing many dedicated cycling lanes in the busiest areas, you will at some point find yourself sharing the road with a cyclist. As they move much slower than standard traffic you should be aware of how to deal with cyclists as you approach. Remember we are all use the same road and we are all entitled to our fair share.