How to Share The Road With Bicyclists

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Bicyclists have full rights to the roadway in almost all scenarios under California law. Thus, it is imperative for everyday drivers like us to share the roadway appropriately. But how do we share the roadway with bicyclists in a way that increases safety for everybody?

Here, we want to review some of the most important tips for drivers about how to properly share the road with bicyclists in and around Long Beach, to avoid any bicycle crash accidents.

Maintain a Safe Distance

Drivers should always leave at least three feet of space between their vehicle and a bicyclist when passing. This buffer zone provides safety for bicyclists from potential side-swipe accidents. We also encourage drivers to be aware of the “Dooring” Zone. Be cautious of opening car doors when parked on the side of the road. Check for approaching bicyclists to prevent “dooring” accidents, where a cyclist collides with an opened car door.

Stay Vigilant at Intersections

Bicyclists often use the same lanes as vehicles, especially when turning. Yield to them as you would for other vehicles, acknowledging their right of way. Be especially cautious when making right turns. Ensure there are no bicyclists on your right side or coming up behind you, as they may be going straight through the intersection in a bike lane or near the road’s edge.

Respect Bike Lanes

Long Beach is a fairly bicycle-friendly place. We have plenty of bike lanes and bike paths, some of which are right next to regular vehicle traffic lanes. Drivers should treat bike lanes as exclusive zones for bicyclists unless they are making a turn, entering or leaving the roadway, or in case of an emergency. Always check for bicyclists before crossing a bike lane.

Do not park in bike lanes. Blocking these lanes forces bicyclists to merge into vehicle traffic, increasing the risk of collisions.

Exercise Patience

Drivers should recognize that bicyclists will move at slower speeds than regular vehicles (not all the time, but in most cases). Drivers have to maintain patience and wait for a safe opportunity to pass rather than pressuring cyclists by tailgating.

Bicyclists may need to navigate around potholes, debris, or parked cars. Drivers should anticipate sudden movements and give them space to maneuver safely.

Signal Your Intentions

Always signal your turns and lane changes well in advance when you’re in your vehicle. This gives bicyclists time to anticipate your actions and react accordingly, enhancing safety for all. Again, before turning, ensure that a bicyclist isn’t in your blind spot or approaching the intersection at a speed that could lead to a collision.

Enhance Your Awareness

Always look for bicyclists, especially in urban areas, near schools, and in neighborhoods where bike traffic is common. All of us who have had a driver’s education course know that defensive driving is the key to remaining safe on the roadway, and that same principle applies to operating a vehicle around bicyclists. Additionally, drivers should remain vigilant after dark. Bicyclists should have lights and reflectors (as required by California law), but it’s crucial for drivers to actively look for them.