Cyclists in Portland shouldn’t have to wait until the annual World Naked Bike Ride to capture your attention. Each year, hundreds of cyclists’ lives are lost in collisions with automobiles. Thousands more are injured. Though cyclists sometimes break the rules of the road just as drivers do, we feel that it is crucial to highlight precautions that drivers can take when sharing the road.
A Portland cycling attorney emphasizes the top 10 ways that drivers can better coexist with cyclists to reduce traffic incidents and save lives. The key thing to remember is that cyclists have the RIGHT to use roadways. Horsepower does not correlate with authority.
When you’re on the road you may not realize that you’re driving a machine that weighs an average of 4,000 pounds. A bike weighs roughly 20 pounds. When the two come into contact, there is no question that the bike (and the accompanying cyclist) loses. Every time. When an accident is serious enough, injuries are severe. Loss of limb or life is fairly common. High speed is usually the culprit for grim incidents.
Know About Cyclists’ Rights
Too often drivers are not aware that cyclists have the right to utilize the road for transport. Sometimes, they have no clue that by law a bicycle on the road is considered a vehicle, and that traffic laws apply equally to both cars and bikes. Riding on the sidewalk is not typically an option for cyclist commuters as busy sidewalks are prime territory for pedestrian-cyclist accidents. As a driver, you must respect the cyclist’s right of way.
Check your Attitude
One important thing you can do is to change the way you think and feel toward cyclists on your commute. Changing a habit is not easy, but once you realize that cyclists have the right to be there, you can think of them less as “in your way” and more as just another Joe on his way to work, like you.
Imagine that the cyclists you encounter are your friends, neighbors, or family even. Imagine one of those cyclists is you! How would you wish for the drivers around you to behave? What would make you feel safe? Making an effort to humanize cyclists can make a huge difference toward safer conditions all around.
Consider the Benefits of Cycling
A good workout, some fresh air, fewer emissions…there are dozens of reasons people advocate for cycling as a form of transportation. If you are more comfortable driving a car to work, consider that the cyclist is one fewer car on the road. The cyclist is someone you may have to accommodate temporarily, but as soon as you pass him, it’s over. He is not akin to a distracted driver you get stuck behind for miles, unknowingly driving slowly in the fast lane as he fumbles with technology.
When making a right turn, be aware that a cyclist may be continuing forward. Always use your turn signal and look twice when turning at an intersection. STOP at the stoplight, don’t roll through it just because you don’t see any cars continuing through the intersection. The more effort you make into changing that mindset, the more accustomed you will become to seeing other modes of transportation.
Yield at Left Turns
If you are about to have clearance to make a left turn, but a cyclist is crossing, yield. Many accidents occur when a driver thinks he will be able to complete the turn quickly enough, yet afterward they claim they did not realize how fast the bike was traveling.
“3 Feet Please”
The 3 Feet Please campaign started in Tallahassee, Florida and urges drivers to allow three feet of clearance when passing cyclists. In several states, three feet is already the law. Oregon is not one of them. Instead, cyclists must use their discretion to utilize the roadway in a way that is practically prudent to create a safe space. If necessary, a cyclist may “take the lane” until it is safe to ride on the side of the road.
Too many accidents occur because drivers claim they “did not see” the cyclist before they crashed. Expect to see cyclists, motorcycles, scooters, and pedestrians, and keep your eyes on the road!
Look Before You Leave
Cyclists share a universal fear of being “doored” on their ride. It is a serious issue, as dooring can launch cyclists flying over opened car doors into oncoming traffic to their deaths. Always make sure the space is clear before exiting your vehicle.
Accept that Cyclists Aren’t Going Anywhere
In Portland, Oregon, the number of cyclist commuters continues to climb as the number of car-dependent households drops. You may even be considering a cycling commute yourself. There are plenty of incentives to bike more, including improved health, reduced pollution and congestion, cost savings, and the fact that it is increasingly becoming safer (and easier thanks to Portland carsharing) to commute around town.
Whether you are a driver or a cyclist, you have a lot to gain from seeking a personal injury attorney in Portland after a serious accident. If you have been injured and have lost wages, incurred property damage, and medical bills, RizkLaw can help you receive the settlement you deserve. Call (503) 245-5677.