With spring in full effect, many of you reading this are either already taking your bikes out on the road or are planning to as soon as you can. Not only is this a great way to get exercise, but it’s more cost-effective than driving an automobile, better for the environment, and just plain fun. And unless you’re a fully fledged bike commuter, it’s likely that you are behind the wheel of a car at least occasionally. Do you know the rules and regulations concerning sharing the road?
We want you to stay safe, so we thought it’d be a good idea to give you a little refresher on a few rules of the road for both drivers and cyclists. Follow these and you’re more likely to enjoy the spring season with family and friends instead of dealing with the aftermath of an accident.
Same Basic Rules Apply to Bikes
First and foremost, you must keep in mind that the same basic rules that apply to automobiles also apply to bicycles. This means that rudimentary things like keeping a safe distance from others in traffic, stopping at red lights, signaling when turning, following street signs, etc. must be followed at all times. Many of these rules will get you ticketed if you don’t follow them, but following the rules are important for your safety too. Too often cyclists get hurt because they were riding against the flow of traffic or without proper lighting at night, which we discuss further below, so follow the rules of the road to stay safe.
Drive and Ride Courteously
Whether you’re driving an automobile or riding a bike, it’s important to always act courteously whenever you’re on the road. This means giving cyclists plenty of room when driving past them, Colorado law requires 3 feet to pass, and making sure that you are aware of the intentions of other drivers or riders at intersections before taking the right of way. This will help ensure that everyone gets to their destination safely.
Bicycles Are Often Invisible to Drivers
It should be pretty obvious that bicycles aren’t nearly as visible as cars, trucks, and other automobiles. They’re not even as visible as motorcycles a lot of the time. Because of this, it’s important for both drivers and cyclists to remain vigilant about paying attention to everything happening on the road and, specifically, looking out for all types of vehicles. For cyclists, you should always assume that the other drivers don’t see you and make sure to wear clothing and use equipment to help improve your chance of being seen by others. This will help keep you safe.
Safety Equipment Helps Everyone
It is important for everyone on the road to use the proper safety equipment, so that if you are involved in an accident, you are more likely to come out unscathed or with lesser injuries. For drivers, this primarily means to wear your seatbelt at all times. And, for cyclists, never hit the road without a helmet. You never know when an accident might occur, so you must be vigilant in using this equipment at all times.
Obtain the Right Lights for Night Riding
As you might imagine, riding a bike at night makes it even more difficult for drivers to see you clearly. This is why specific types of lights are required if you’re going to ride your bike after the sun goes down. What you need is a front white light that is visible up to 500 feet away, along with a rear red reflector that can be seen up to 600 feet away when hit by headlights. A rear red light is not mandatory by law, but we would recommend adding one of those, as well.
Stay Off Your Cell Phone
In most situations, cell phone use is not legally permitted when driving an automobile. With bicycles, however, there’s no law against it. But, this is one case where the law shouldn’t matter. You should never be typing on your cell phone when riding a bike or behind the wheel of a car. Distracted driving, like cell phone usage, contributed to nearly 400,000 vehicle injuries in 2016 alone. If you absolutely must use your phone, be sure to pull over to the side of the road.
These simple rules come down to being law-abiding drivers and riders, and exercising caution and common sense, so that everyone stays safe while out on the road. But, of course, accidents do happen. If you’ve been involved in an accident, reach out to the experienced attorneys at Mintz Law Firm for a free, no-risk consultation.