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As a motorist, do you understand biking laws?

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on May 17, 2022 10:07:52 AM

Motorist tips for keeping bicyclists safeBicycling is growing in popularity, especially since e-bikes have arrived on the scene. Bicycling is easier on your joints than other more strenuous exercises, reduces stress, and can be enjoyed for a lifetime. 

Due to federal funding, there are more bike trails and street lanes than ever before. These upgrades allow for safer rides with your family and safer commutes to work.

If you’re not interested in biking, that’s fine. However, as a motorist, you should be familiar with state laws designed to keep bicyclists safe. Here are some laws that may apply.

Safe passing.

This law requires a motor vehicle to allow no less than three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist. If on a two-lane road and it’s safe to do so, move into the other lane just as you would move over for safety and emergency vehicles on the side of the road. 

Distracted driving.

We all know that distracted driving is dangerous and even deadly. Yet we tell ourselves that looking away from the road for a quick second is okay. That brief second could cause you to swerve and hit a bicyclist. Many states have laws against texting and driving. But remember, distracted driving occurs in other forms too. To learn more and to improve your driving skills, click here

Treatment as a vehicle.

Bicyclists have the same rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle. Bicyclists can ride in a lane of traffic. Most don’t unless changing lanes to make a turn. For example, motorists have yelled at me for being in a traffic lane when trying to make a left turn. That maneuver is the correct and safe thing for me to do. 

Where to ride.

If riding on the street, bicyclists must ride as close to the curb or edge of the roadway as practical. Bicyclists are probably still two to three feet away from a curb or a parked car. So, the best thing you can do is respect their space and pass when it’s safe for both of you.

Sidewalk riding.

While you may think all bicyclists should be riding on the sidewalk, not all city ordinances allow it; especially near businesses where customers exit a building onto the sidewalk. Always be sure you stop behind a crosswalk so that pedestrians and bicyclists can cross safely. 

Dooring law.  

I’ll bet you’ve experienced this while driving your car: a door from a parked car suddenly opens just as you’re approaching the car. This situation can be even more dangerous for bikers. The dooring law states that a person in a parked car DOES NOT have the right to open the door at any time. A driver or passenger may only open a door when it’s safe and doesn’t interfere with traffic movement.

If you’re interested in biking to work, riding with your family, or participating in a biking event, check out my blog, “Bike safety tips for commuters, families, and enthusiasts.” You’ll find tips for getting started and staying safe.

Do you have any suggestions or information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the box below.


Topics: Auto Safety, Bicycle Safety

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