May is National Bike Month and with nicer weather finally upon us, it’s great to see so many people reaping the benefits of outdoor exercise…and that doesn’t just include bikes! Safety is something I stress to clients during any form of exercise, but when it comes to sharing the road, I think we all can use a friendly reminder once in a while to help keep everyone safe. Let’s try to eliminate these accidents we’ve read so much about the past few years, and watch for people enjoying a healthy lifestyle outdoors. This post is dedicated to the driver’s perspective and I hope these tips are mere refreshers. It is important to remember however, that responsibility falls on both drivers and cyclists/pedestrians, so check out Part 2 from their perspective on my blog here.
Friday, May 16th is National Bike to Work Day! Please keep these in mind!
Know the Hand Signals:
Cyclists should be using hand signals on the roads, so that means every driver should know what they mean! As someone who rides my bike on the road I know there have been times I was signaling my right turn, but the driver didn’t know what that meant. Here’s a reminder for all of us.
Passing a Bicycle:
When passing a bicycle…”New Hampshire requires that every driver of a vehicle, when approaching a bicyclist, shall insure the safety and protection of the bicyclist and shall exercise due care by leaving a reasonable and prudent distance between the vehicle and the bicycle. The distance shall be presumed to be reasonable and prudent if it is at least 3 feet when the vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour or less, with one additional foot of clearance required for every 10 miles per hour above 30 miles per hour.” (Source:N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §265:143-a)
When coming upon a pedestrian or cyclist and there isn’t much room to the side of the road, please be understanding in that the edges of some roads can be treacherous with potholes, trash, debris, (roadkill even), and the pedestrian/cyclist may not have much room. Sometimes puddles make it hard to know what is under water so bicycles must go around. If necessary, slow down and wait for oncoming traffic to continue before passing. Even though bicycles should be as far to the right side of the road as practicable, there are instances where they should be in the road or left hand lane. Sharing the road is important and here’s what the law says about when bicycles don’t need to be far to the right:
- When overtaking and passing another bicycle or any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing for or making a left turn at an intersection or into a driveway;
- When proceeding straight in a place where right turns are permitted; and
- When necessary to avoid hazardous conditions, including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, broken pavement, glass, sand, puddles, ice, or opening doors of parked vehicles.
Source: N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §265:144(XI)
Turning Right at a Stop:
Please please please, when turning right at a stop sign remember to look to the right as well as the left. Although bicyclists should be on the opposite side of the road, there may be another pedestrian obeying the law by running or walking in the opposite direction of traffic coming towards you. There have been many instances when I’ve been out running that a car rolls through a stop seeing that no cars are coming from the left, but the driver doesn’t look to see if there is a pedestrian coming the other way. Again, both parties need to be responsible for their safety, but if we can all be a little bit more alert, more people can enjoy the benefits of outdoor exercise.
Beeping and Honking:
You might think it’s funny to beep at someone least expecting it on even a not-so-busy road, but put yourself in that person’s shoes. It’s not and can cause an accident not worth the laugh.
Even if there are no other cars on the road, using your directional helps bikers and pedestrians know that you plan on turning so they can expect how to react or anticipate your move. If they are in the middle of the entrance to the road that you plan on turning into, they might not get out of the way fast enough if they assume you are continuing straight.
Texting While Driving:
It’s wrong. It’s not necessary. The consequences aren’t worth it and it can wait. Please don’t do it and encourage everyone else you know to do the same.
Even though the snow is gone (finally!) there is still a lot to consider while on the roads this time of year. I have read many debates between drivers and bicyclists and pedestrians regarding issues about sharing the roads. Hopefully with a little understanding and respect from each side, we can have a healthier community taking full advantage of our wonderful state and the roads it offers for travel….by car, bike, or foot!