Dealing with bad drivers while cycling is unpleasant, but also inevitable. Does this sound familiar? You’re on a peaceful ride, keeping your pace, riding on the side of a long road in the middle of nowhere. You arrive at an intersection and prepare to stop. A driver pulls up in their car seconds after you. But instead of stopping, they roll to a half-stop and keep going even though you got there first.
Perhaps that exact situation has happened to you. If not, you probably have a similar experience in your riding history. Reacting effectively to bad drivers while cycling is extremely important. Because no matter how safely and responsibly you ride, they’re behind the wheel of a metal-and-glass missile and you’re on a bicycle wearing a helmet. You should expect drivers to be safe, but also know that protecting yourself is more important than being right.
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Guarding Against Bad Drivers While Cycling
- Be cautious when passing on the right
- Recent changes in Utah law allow cyclists to utilize the right shoulder to pass. Be aware that drivers may not expect you to pass on the right and you may be in their blind spot.
- Don’t use headphones while cycling
- As nice as it is to listen to music while cycling, you need to be able to hear what is going on around you. If you must wear headphones, always keep one ear free so you can hear anything which may compromise your safety.
- Dress to be seen
- Wear brightly-colored clothing so that motorists can easily see you. Never wear dark clothes at night.
- Use lights at night
- When cycling at night, make sure that your bicycle is equipped with a front headlight and a red rear reflector. Don’t give bad drivers the excuse that “they didn’t see you.”
Watching, listening, and focusing while cycling can save your life and the lives of others in your group
- In 2009, 630 cyclists died on the road.
- 90% of those deaths resulted from accidents involving a motor vehicle.
- About 940 Utah cyclists are injured in traffic accidents every year.
- On average, 7 cyclists are killed in accidents with motor vehicles each year.
Take these statistics seriously. Dealing with bad drivers while cycling is not merely an annoying necessity. When you’re on the road with others, your responsibility to the law, alertness, and good decision-making can only protect you so much. Do everything you can to avoid an accident with a car — because the car will almost always do more damage.
Bad Drivers and You: Be Proactive
- Be alert
- Don’t get into too much of a “zone” while cycling — be aware of cars passing too closely or drivers behaving erratically.
- Even if you clearly have the right-of-way, defer to an impatient driver. Don’t just hope that they’ll stop and respect your rights. Wait and make sure that drivers are aware of you.
- Follow the law
- This will provide you with greater confidence and peace of mind.
Photo via Google Images