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Don’t Think Bicycles Belong On The Road? This Might Change Your View

Written by Teresa Te on September 25, 2017

Sharing the road with bicycles isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. They’re slow, unpredictable, and pose a significant danger to themselves when they ride on the wrong side of the street.

Bicycles are considered a nuisance by many drivers, and some people don’t even like sharing the road with motorcycles. It’s not that people are selfish; they just don’t feel comfortable with smaller vehicles on the road because they’re hard to see and easier to hit.

Motorcycles are also hard to see, but you can hear them coming (most of the time). Smart motorcycle riders drive with extra caution, knowing they’re in a vulnerable position. Although most car drivers don’t like it, it’s actually safer for the motorcycle to ride between lanes of stopped traffic to get a head start at a red light.

Sharing the road is legal, even though it’s dangerous

Regardless of how you feel about bicycles on the road, you can’t deny the danger they add to the streets for all traveling vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 818 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2015.

Bicycles aren’t going to disappear from the roads anytime soon. If you’re not convinced that you should be more open to sharing the road, consider that all it takes is one tiny bump from your car to send a cyclist flying. Cyclists have no protection when they land. That means you’ll be paying their medical bills. If your insurance policy doesn’t provide enough coverage, you’ll be paying out of pocket.

If you’re not paying careful attention, it’s easy to accidentally hit a bicyclist. According to Kelly & Soto Law, “A majority of the bicycle accidents causing injury involve cars and trucks. Collisions often occur because motorists do not see a bicyclist at an intersection, turn right just after passing a bicyclist, or fail to recognize that a cyclist has right of way.” Although they’re required to obey traffic rules, if a bicyclist ignored a traffic rule when you hit them, depending on the circumstances, you might still be liable for personal injury damages.

Bicyclists can be unpredictable

The unpredictable nature of a bicyclist, even in the bike lane, makes automobile drivers nervous. Some drivers swerve around all cyclists in the bike lane because they don’t know when a cyclist will swerve.

On narrow two-lane roads, as in many country towns, this presents an even bigger problem. When bicycles are on both sides of the road, cars going in both directions will swerve inward to avoid the cyclist, potentially colliding head-on.

Sometimes bicycles silently appear in a narrow bike lane that doubles as street parking. If you don’t see a cyclist when you open your car door, and they run into it, that’s enough to create severe injuries.

Traffic laws are tricky

Motorcycles and bicyclists are required to follow the same traffic laws as cars. As with some car drivers, there are motorcyclists who don’t follow all the rules. However, it’s insignificant compared to the number of bicyclists who ignore traffic rules.

Even when cyclists use hand signals for turning and stopping, many riders zip through red lights and cross intersections without obeying stop signs. This is frustrating and nerve-wracking as a driver, but there’s nothing you can do to change it. All you can do is understand the potential and drive cautiously when a cyclist is in sight.

While bicyclists are considered drivers of vehicles, making them legal on the road, police don’t always ticket cyclists for breaking traffic laws. Bicyclists who know they can get away with breaking traffic laws will continue to do it.

A cyclist wouldn’t necessarily run a red light in their car, but on a bike they might, if there’s no cross traffic.

It’s not right for bicyclists to ignore traffic laws, but as a driver, when you allow your anger toward bikes to take over, you could end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit and lose everything you own.

We know that bicyclists put themselves at risk when they ride on the road, but why is it such a danger?

Poor infrastructure is the root of the problem

Most roads were not built to accommodate bicycles. Bike lanes were an afterthought, added after the roads were built. The addition of a bike lane significantly reduces the width of traffic lanes and only gives bicycles a thin lane to ride in. The bike lane is so thin, many cyclists have a hard time staying within the lines and frequently weave in and out.

Instead of getting upset, remember that bikes will be on the road whether you like it or not. Driving carefully around them is the only measure of protection you have against a lawsuit.