Sharing The Road With Cyclists
Cycling is becoming more and more popular in the US as a form of recreation and exercise and, if some have their way, bicycles will become even more prevalent, not only on the open road but in cities as well. Cities such as Boston, Washington DC, and Denver have installed bike-share programs that allow commuters to use a debit card at kiosks throughout the city and rent a bike by the hour or for the day. At least three more cities; New York, San Francisco, and Portland Oregon are making plans for bike-sharing/rental systems.
San Francisco's bikes will be equipped with electric motors so the users can climb the steep hills throughout the city. Portland doesn’t see the program as providing bikes for those who commute all the way from their home – those people have their own bikes. Instead, the program is designed more toward those who ride public transportation and need transportation from the end of the line to their work place. The bike sharing programs will be studied to see if they reduce the number of motor vehicles on the road.
With more cyclists on the road, motorists will need to become more aware of their presence to prevent crashes.
In 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 618 pedacyclists were killed and an additional 52,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. The average age of cyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes has been going up steadily. The number of cyclist fatalities among those ages 25 to 64 was 16% higher in 2010 as in 2001.
The states with the highest number of cycling fatalities in 2010 were:
- California - 99
- Florida - 83
- Texas - 42
- New York – 36
- Michigan - 29
Bicyclists, in every state, have a right to ride on every road with the exception of limited access highways and interstates. With that right to ride, comes the responsibility to obey all of the same traffic laws that apply to drivers.
- Ride on the right side of the road, going with the flow of traffic.
- Signal for turns and obey all stop signs and traffic lights.
- Wear helmets and clothing that makes them more visible.
Drivers need to understand and respect the cyclist’s right to the road.
- Give cyclists at least three feet clearance when passing.
- Look for cyclists before opening car doors.
- Remember the rule at cross streets; before crossing, look to the left, to the right, and then, back to the left again before proceeding across the street.
One of the major problems involving sharing the road with cyclists is that they are small, hard to see and drivers don’t usually expect them so they don’t look for them. Drivers need to be watchful for cyclists both approaching from the rear on the right and those approaching at a cross street. In many collisions between motorists and cyclists, the motorist is quoted as saying "I never saw the bike."
Learn more about what the State of Texas is doing to promote bicycle safety and how you can be a part of it:
Texas Share The Road Education Campaign - BikeTexas is a nonprofit organization that aims to advance bicycle access, safety and education in Texas. Since their formation in 1991, they have united the voices of bicycle enthusiasts, bicycle makers and Texas bicycle clubs.
Texas Loves Cyclists: Through the actions of the TxDOT, various bicycle advocacy groups, city engineers and citizens, various guidelines and policies have been put into place to ensure that Texas is a state that welcomes cyclists.