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Cycling in Traffic: Tips for Sharing the Road with Cars & Trucks
Road cycling can be a daunting experience for any cyclist - no matter the experience level. If one is not accustomed to sharing the road with cars and trucks, cycling alongside large vehicles traveling at a fast speed may not seem like the safest activity. However, it is possible to cycle safely in traffic and enjoy the benefits of using cycling as a mode of transportation or recreation. Following the tips below will help one stay safe while sharing the road with other cars and trucks.
Follow Traffic Rules
One of the most important roadside cycling safety tips is to follow the rules of the road. Bicycles are considered vehicles which means they are expected to follow the same rules as cars and trucks. This includes stopping at stop signs and traffic lights, using hand signals when turning or changing lanes, and riding on the right side of the road in the direction of traffic. If one fails to obey traffic laws and gets into an accident, they are liable on account of negligence. According to the personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of Edward W. Sampson, “negligence basically boils down to failing to exercise the required degree of care necessary to avoid injury to others.” Cyclists have a duty to obey traffic laws, so it is important to know what they are and how to use hand signals.
Make Oneself Visible
It is important for cyclists to stay visible at any time of day, but it is even more crucial at night and in inclement weather. Wearing bright, reflective clothing and utilizing reflectors on one’s bike can increase one's visibility. Adding reflective tape to one’s helmet or bike frame and utilizing a flashing rear light can make one even more noticeable to cars and trucks.
Cyclists are expected to follow the same rules as cars and trucks. This includes limiting distractions while riding one’s bike. Cyclists should avoid utilizing their phones, listening to music, and eating while riding. Although car and truck drivers should be aware of cyclists and avoid engaging in distractions, this is not always the case. Therefore, it is imperative for cyclists to be aware of their surroundings and to keep their focus on the road.
Be Aware of Blind Spots
Trucks and cars have blindspots that prevent the driver from always being able to see cyclists or other vehicles. Cyclists should avoid riding right next to or close behind other vehicles as they might not be visible in the drivers' mirrors. A serious accident could occur if a cyclist is in a car's blind spot when the car or truck is attempting to change lanes. It is always a good idea for cyclists to stay behind or well in front of a car to avoid being hit.
It can be tempting to hug the curb or stay as far to the side of the road as possible when cycling in traffic. However, this can actually be more dangerous as it can make it more difficult for cars to see cyclists, and it can encourage drivers to pass too closely. Taking up space in the lane allows drivers to clearly see cyclists. In addition to that, it is important for cyclists to ride in a straight line and to utilize turn signals to safely ride on the road.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
No matter how cautious a cyclist is, emergencies still happen. When cycling on the road, it is important to have the proper equipment and knowledge to handle the situation. Cyclists should carry a basic repair kit with them including tools, spare tubes, a pump, and the knowledge of how to fix a flat tire. It is also important to carry a phone, and emergency contact information in case of a more serious incident
Cycling in traffic can be incredibly intimidating; however, utilizing the right skills and precautions can ensure cyclists get around safely. Staying alert and aware of one’s surroundings can minimize risks and allow cyclists to enjoy the many benefits of cycling on the road. It is also important to remember that safety is everyone’s responsibility and everyone should do their part to share the road.