Summer is quickly winding down which means that the start of another school year is fast approaching. This also means that there will be more school children driving their bicycles to and from school. In addition, many adults will continue to ride their bicycles to work or just for recreation. Sharing roadways is sometimes a challenge. Like drivers, cyclists must also follow the regulations for road users as riding on the sidewalks is prohibited (with the exception of small children). Let's discuss these more vulnerable road users and the challenges they pose to drivers.
Dealing with cyclists can be frustrating, particularly if they are slow and in your lane where you don't have room to pass.
Every cyclist has different skill levels and capabilities and a different attitude towards traffic.
They are not permitted to ride on the sidewalks and gravel shoulders are difficult and dangerous for most cyclists; they are required to be on the roadway and it's everyone's responsibility to share.
They don't all use hand signals to communicate intent.
Driver's need to follow 5 simple Fundamentals:
"Think and Look Ahead" to develop your vision skills.
- Keep Your Eyes Up: It's tempting to look down and over the hood of the car at the center line or tail lights in front of you. It's much more effective to keep your eyes up.
- Eye Lead Time: Look 12 to 15 seconds ahead of where your vehicle is at any given time and actively search for cyclists.
- Move Your Eyes: This takes practice and intent. Look left, right, ahead and into mirrors. Cyclists are small and difficult to see and they may position themselves in your blind spots. Moving your eyes is particularly important to see to the side because your peripheral vision becomes increasingly ineffective as your speed increases.
- See the Big Picture: By moving your eyes, you get a 'big picture' perspective of the traffic environment and your place in it.
- Eye Contact: The way to know if a cyclist sees you is to make eye contact with them. If they are looking at you and you see them making eye contact with you, you can be fairly sure (but not guaranteed) that they see you.
"Keep Your Options Open" and "Keep Space Around You":
- Manage your space effectively and don't crowd cyclists particularly as you pass.
- Keep a sharp eye out for cyclists and when passing them, leave lots of room. One small wobble or bump can send them right into your path.
- The best plan is to wait until you can move way over into the other lane and not pass so closely or squeeze them towards the curb or ditch.