If you are a cyclist, then you know how it can feel like you’re taking your life in your hands every time you hit the city streets. Some motorists don’t know that both cyclist and motorist can share the road happily, while others just plain don’t notice the cyclists until they’re swerving into oncoming traffic last minute to avoid a deadly collision.
Distracted drivers tend to pose the biggest threat to cyclists. In 2009, a review of statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 630 people are killed on average in the US in accidents involving cars and bicycles.
So, how can a driver help out his two-wheeled friend? There are many ways to ensure the safety of cyclists that share the roads including installing a backup camera. Let’s take a look at some of the other ways to keep everyone safe.
Change Your Mindset
If you’re one of the many drivers that consider cyclists to be a nuisance, that they are always getting in your way and belong off the streets, it’s time to flip that thinking as soon as possible! If anything, more people are going to be riding bikes in the city streets to save on gasoline or to help out the environment. It’s time you get used to it!
One way of doing this is to imagine that cyclist as one of your friends or loved ones. This might be the thing that changes the image of the cyclist from annoying to human, calming you down so you don’t do something stupid, ending up on the nightly news for succumbing to road rage. If this doesn’t work, just think of this – that cyclist represents a person who chose not to take a car to work today. That’s one less car on the road contributing to rush hour traffic!
Learn The Rules for Cyclists
Some drivers are oblivious to the fact there are actually rules of the road for cyclists! First of all, they aren’t allowed to use the sidewalk by law. They are also allowed to be in the middle of a turning lane. Cyclists are subject to the rules of the road just as you are in your car. They also must go with the flow of traffic, not against it, as a walker would do.
When you’re driving around town, check for cyclists just as you would oncoming traffic. This means always checking your mirrors when making a right turn in case there is a cyclist planning to go straight behind you. If you’re turning left, don’t assume you have time to turn before that cyclist. They might be going a bit faster than you think they are! Don’t forget to install that rearview camera to make backing out of driveways incident-free.
Give Them Some Space
Look at you, in that steel cage complete with airbags, and then take a look at the cyclist. Sure, they have a helmet on, but their bicycle is no match for your car in the event of a collision. Experts say three feet is just right. In fact, various states have passed the “3 foot rule,” stating drivers must give them this space. And it isn’t just because some drivers are obnoxious. It’s actually a little bit of both – some cyclists are road hogs, and swerve from the breakdown lane dangerously close to the white line or over the bicycle lane. This law goes for both cyclists and drivers.
Lay Off The Horn
You’re biking along and all of a sudden, a car horn blares directly behind you. How would you react, if you were the cyclist? You don’t have a rearview camera, after all. You’d probably have a near-heart attack, and your bicycle would most definitely swerve. Maybe you’d crash into a parked car. Common courtesy would suggest if you must honk the horn, only do so in the case of an extreme emergency (not because they’re “in your way”), and just a short little toot is sufficient. No need to lie on the horn incessantly.
Check Your Mirrors When You Park
If you’re parking on a city street, you might want to check your mirror before you open the door. While you’re at it, glance behind you to see that blind spot. Many drivers simply open up their doors blindly, smashing into a cyclist. Sometimes, these cyclists die after landing in the middle of traffic. That awareness is crucial to the safety of the cyclist. A rearview camera is great to check out what’s going on behind you, too!
Put The Phone Down!
This is probably the most important piece of advice. We lived for a long time without these devices, and no one is going to die if that text isn’t answered immediately. While you might be itching to respond or plug in an address into your GPS, you’re putting all cyclists, pedestrians, and even drivers at risk of getting into an accident. It just isn’t worth it. In fact, most states have a hands-free or texting law of some form. If you must fiddle with your phone, pull over.
Rearview backup cameras allow you to safely back up your vehicle while at the same time keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe. If your car didn’t come equipped with one, it’s time you had one installed for the sake of all those that share the road with you.