In previous articles, we’ve discussed how a bicyclist can avoid an accident with a car. Things like making eye contact with drivers, not cycling near obstacles to vision and riding on the correct side of the road are all great tips. But what happens when you’re the motorist and a person on a bicycle makes an unexpected maneuver?
There are several moves a bicyclist can make that could lead to an unavoidable collision. That is, unless you can anticipate these moves. When you know what to look for, you may be able to react quickly and avoid striking a cyclist.
Bicyclists are legally supposed to follow the rules of the road, which includes stopping at controlled intersections. Some cyclists are unaware of this and will continue through without much attention to their surroundings.
As the driver of a vehicle, slow down as you approach an intersection, particularly one in a residential neighborhood. Pay attention to traffic signals and any present signage. Look both ways to be sure that there are no bicyclists approaching the intersection.
Bicyclists have every right to be on the road in the absence of any restrictions. If you notice a cyclist ahead of you, slow down. While most are respectful of other drivers and will drive close to the edge lines, others do not. Think of a 3-foot bubble surrounding the cyclist, and don’t enter that bubble. Slow down, make sure there is no oncoming traffic and give the cyclist wide berth as you pass.
Let’s say you have pulled over into a parking space and see a cyclist in your rearview mirror. You believe that they are a safe distance behind you so you open your door to exit your vehicle. Suddenly the cyclist is right next to you, striking your open door.
If you see a cyclist, avoid opening your door until they have passed. If you can’t wait, open your door slowly, get out of your vehicle quickly and shut the door. You may also want to shout “Open door” so the cyclist hears you and is alerted to the upcoming hazard.
This doesn’t happen with adult cyclists as much as it does with children just learning the rules of the road and cycling safety. You are driving down a city street when all of a sudden a bicyclist enters the roadway from an alley or driveway. You have very little time to stop and avoid a collision.
As a driver, make sure you are traveling at speeds that are safe for the area. Even if the speed is 35 mph down a residential street, go slower if there are several cars parked along the road or there are other obstacles that make it difficult to see. Scan the driveways you can see ahead of you and if you notice a person on a bike, keep your eye on them and watch what they are doing.
It’s not unusual for there to be one-way streets in many cities. It’s also not unusual for bicyclists to ride down these streets in the wrong direction, believing them to be a safer option. This is untrue because drivers are less likely to look for vehicles and bicycles traveling at them.
If you see a cyclist approaching from the wrong way, slow down. If you have room to move over, do so. Sound your horn or wave to be sure the cyclist sees you.
Bicycles are to be ridden on the road in many localities, but some people still choose to ride on sidewalks. These people may roll into a crosswalk without paying attention to signals.
As you approach a crosswalk, slow down and look for both pedestrians and bicycles. Even if you have the right of way, it’s a good idea to be cautious. Not everyone will slow or obey signals. While you may not be charged criminally for someone’s mistake, injuring someone is something that will stick with you for a long time.
Drivers of vehicles are often given the blame when a bicyclist is hit, but its not always the fault of the driver. No one wants to be responsible for the injury of someone else, but we can all only be responsible for our own actions. The next time you slip behind the wheel of your vehicle, make a conscious effort to pay more attention to what is happening outside of your vehicle so that you have time to react to unexpected situations.
If you have been involved in a bicycle versus car accident in West Palm Beach, you have rights. Call our office today to speak with a member of our team and schedule a case evaluation.