For many years, there’s been a silent battle between drivers and cyclists on the road. Both parties regularly accuse each other of illegal activities, which often leads to road rage or messy accidents. In many cases, cyclists are in the right when it comes to their liberties on the road. As at top DC car accident lawyer, we want drivers to be aware of these frequent illegal actions when it comes to dealing with cyclists in the streets.
1. Stopping in a Bike Lane
Bike lanes run along many major roadways, and they’re usually located near the street’s shoulder. Drivers, however, tend to stop or park along these shoulders where bike lanes are clearly marked. Blocking the bike lane forces cyclists to move into car lanes, which may lead to accidents. Ideally, drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings as they park their vehicles. No part of the car should extend into the bike lane for an extended period of time. This illegal move is dangerous for both cyclists and motorists alike.
2. Crossing the Limit Line
Almost every intersection has limit lines where vehicles are meant to stop before moving forward. However, many drivers roll right through these limit lines. Cyclists might be crossing perpendicularly to these areas, and subsequently could be struck from the side. Rolling over the limit line by only a few feet may cause severe injuries to the cyclists. Drivers should stop their vehicles behind the line while looking both ways for crossing traffic. This simple change to your driving habits can help stop many accidents with cyclists.
3. Asking Cyclists to Move
Contrary to popular belief, cyclists aren’t supposed to ride on the sidewalks. These areas are designated for foot traffic. When drivers actively roll down their windows and caution cyclists to move over, they’re prompting cyclists to act illegally. Cyclists may be cited for an illegal act if they impede upon foot traffic on sidewalks. Ideally, drivers should remain in their lanes with enough room for cyclists along the shoulder. These parties shouldn’t cross paths unless a merge is necessary.
4. Tailgating or Passing Closely to a Cyclist
It is important to give cyclists their space because driving too closely to them is both dangerous and rude. While you may be in a hurry, cyclists can only pedal at a certain speed. Allow for ample space around every side of the cyclist. Don’t tailgate or pass by their side too closely. The vehicle’s breeze may topple a cyclist at a high enough speed. If your car is struck or cut off when you’re very close to a cyclist, all three parties may be involved in an accident. Because the cyclist is exposed, he or she is usually the person who is the most seriously injured.
5. Merging Incorrectly
Drivers should remember that they need to merge carefully into bike lanes. From a legal standpoint, a bike lane needs to be treated the same as a standard car lane. Drivers must signal, check their blind spots and move carefully into the space. These actions give cyclists a warning that a car is moving near them and they should act accordingly. Merging incorrectly may startle a cyclist and cause an accident. Careful merging helps keep everyone safe as both cyclists and motorists move about the road.
Cyclists aren’t always following the rules either. In most states, cyclists and drivers need to adhere to the same road rules, such as stopping at traffic signals and yielding. If cyclists follow the road rules with drivers, issues might be avoided as everyone tries to reach their destination. In the end, everyone can get along.
Thanks to our friends and co-contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into cyclist safety on the road.