We might be preaching to the choir, but here are six tips for motorists (and that includes cyclists who drive too) that will go a long way to sharing the road and preventing a car-bike accident. Forward the link on to your non-cycling mates. - By Elly Blue
Need a New Year’s resolution? Make it this: Turn your phone off, turn it onto flight mode, lock it in the trunk—whatever you do, the number one thing you can do to share the road like a champ is DON’T TOUCH THE PHONE. Talking even on a hands-free headset has been found to be an equivalent distraction to drunk driving. And don’t even get me started about texting and whatever else folks get up to behind the wheel. Just glancing down at your phone to dial a number or read an incoming text can be a lethal distraction for you or for someone unlucky enough to be near you. I know you’re busy and that those little screens are absolutely compelling. But enough already! Driving a car is the most dangerous thing you’ll do on any given day. You have no excuse whatsoever to be anything but totally focused on it.
Allow for a tipping point
When you’re cycling along, it’s easy to spot the drivers who aren’t used to sharing the road with you—they either zoom by you way too close or they hang back, unsure when to pass. Neither is necessary. Just follow this rule of thumb: Imagine the person on the bicycle tipping over toward you. Give them at least that much room when you pass, and wait to pass until you can safely give them that much room. That might mean hanging back for a block or so, but it’s better than risking hitting someone. The Western Cape requires passing motorists to give cyclists at least 1 metre, I recommend giving riders at least 1.5m.
Avoid the door prize
Get in the habit of opening your driver’s side car door with your left hand (and your passenger side door with your right). This simple habit change serves the essential function of reminding you to look behind you and avoid opening your door directly in the path of a speedy upcoming bicycle. Some folks ride all the way to the left hugging the line of parked cars because they don’t know to avoid the door zone; yet others weigh the perils of moving cars against the perils of parked ones and take their chances. Regardless, I bet you would prefer not to crash anyone. And you can make this second nature in less than a week.
Assume the best
It’s easy to assume the worst of the intentions, behaviour, and intelligence of your fellow road users. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been taken to task by drivers for doing things that are actually totally legal and necessary for my safety. I’ve also made plenty of assumptions about drivers—that they hate me, they hate cyclists, and they are terrible people. The only thing that helps me deal with the road rage I get is imagining that everyone who is driving “like a jerk” just found out that someone they love is in the hospital. That makes it a lot easier to just let things go when a rider makes a seemingly wrong or dumb move near your car.
When you’re in a car, all sound is muffled, so a toot on the hooter doesn’t really sound like much. But when you’re on a bike, yikes! Regardless of the intention of the hoot—saying hello, letting the two wheeled rider know you’re passing, or communicating your irritability—it can be dangerously alarming. Save it for real emergencies and stick with a friendly wave.
Watch your right hook
Here’s a simple one: Check your blind spot before every left turn. There’s a good chance a cyclist is rolling up the road on your left—or maybe you just passed one without noticing. A quick look over your left shoulder will ensure you won’t cut off any approaching riders.