Cars and bicycles: learning to live together on the road
Sunny days are on the way, which is a joy for avid cyclists, who can at last get back on their bikes. It’s also the beginning of the sometimes strained relationships between cyclists and drivers. Sharing the road is a sensitive subject. Quite often the responsibility for accidents is shared between cyclists and drivers. For riders and drivers, sharing the road safely is everybody’s concern. Here are a few pointers for getting along successfully.
Road cyclists can never be too careful
In discussions with drivers, they sometime say that cyclists are at fault for accidents. So here are a few reminders for cyclists:
- Keep visible at all times: It’s the rider’s responsibility to ensure that cars see them when they’re on the road. Gear up with reflectors and active lighting (a white light on the front and red in back) when riding at night. And when you pedal in the day, don’t hesitate to where colourful clothes. The one rule to keep in mind is this: the more visible you are, the safer you are.
- Follow the sense of direction: This may seem obvious, but riding against the flow of traffic is a frequent cause of accidents on both two-way and one-way streets. The sense of direction applies equally to bikes and cars, so don’t do what you would never find yourself doing behind the wheel of a car.
- Respect the Code of the Road: This means stopping at red lights! Even if the path looks clear. Nobody is insusceptible to slight inattention or misjudging vehicles that arrive faster than anticipated.
- Make bike paths your priority choice: As bike paths are made for cyclists, they are safer than main streets, so use them as much as possible. Before heading out on the road, consult a map for the bike paths in your city.
- Get yourself a mirror: A bike mirror helps you confirm if a vehicle or another cyclist is coming up behind you, keeping you more aware and able to adapt your riding as a result.
- Establish eye contact: Always try to make visual contact with car drivers around you to ensure that they see you and understand your intentions.
- Invest in a GPS for bikes: Have you heard of SmartHalo? Developed in Montreal, this smart device guides cyclists around town easily and intuitively.
In the driver’s seat, stay alert at all times
In discussions with cyclists about sharing the road, they most often bring up their feelings of not really being considered by drivers, and therefore not truly safe. So here are a few recommendations for drivers:
- Keep the potential presence of cyclists in mind: Quick, smaller and quieter than cars, it may not always be obvious that a cyclist is near. Always keep it in mind that a cyclist may appear at any moment.
- Be attentive: Check your mirrors and always signal before turning. Be just as attentive when opening your door and check your blind spot when turning to ensure that the way is clear.
- Keep your distance: If you pass a cyclist, make sure to keep a distance of at least one metre beside them.
- Slow down at intersections: Check to the left and right even if the light is green. You can never be too cautious.
- Be courteous and patient: Bicycles are more fragile than cars, so let cyclists pass, particularly when it’s raining or snowing.
- Use the “Dutch Reach” when opening the door: This technique, taught during driver’s tests in Holland, consists of opening the door with the right hand. This basically forces the driver to make a rotational movement that allows them to take a glance behind them. This way, they can see if a cyclist is coming from behind.
On the road, it’s up to everyone to be responsible, as one moment of inattention can cost the life of a driver or rider. Being cautious and courteous and communicating your intentions clearly makes all the difference.
One act at a time, the city is becoming more safe and secure for everybody.
Did you know that bicycles are covered by home insurance? Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more!