Cyclists using the roadway are just like motorized vehicles. As vehicles approach intersections, drivers should take care to ensure that there are no cyclists to the right who intend to proceed straight through the intersection. If you wouldn’t make a right turn in front of another vehicle to the right of you, you shouldn’t do so in front of a cyclist either. The same holds true for left hand turns; cyclist have a right to utilize the turning lanes and should be treated as if they are a vehicle. Motorists should not attempt to share the lane with a bicycle any more so than they would attempt to share the lane with a motorcycle.
Another area of concern for cyclists are people who litter. People who carelessly toss trash, bottles and other refuse from their vehicles generally don’t throw trash directly into the sight line of other drivers. And while drivers should never littler, it is good to remember that a half-full soda flying in the face of a cyclist has the potential to cause an accident and serious injuries.
Driving in the bicycle lane is another no-no. If you’re driving a full size SUV or pickup, you won’t likely make this mistake. But drivers of smaller vehicles sometimes appear to take the view that if they can fit between the lines, they can use it as a traffic lane. It’s a bad idea. Often those lanes end in a way that does not allow a vehicle to rejoin the flow of traffic and the annoyance of trying to back your way out of a narrow lane is going to bring you the kind of attention you don’t want – whether that be a traffic stop or some kids livestreaming you on whatever the social app of the day is. It doesn’t matter how small your vehicle is, you can’t drive it in the bike lane.
If you live in an area where bike lanes are common, or are becoming more common, take the time to visit your state’s motor vehicle department website and familiarize yourself with any new laws or regulations related to the use of those lanes. This information is generally available to the public and can be helpful in navigating roadways crowded with cars, trucks, commercial vehicles of various shapes and sizes, motorcycles, cyclists and even foot traffic in areas where sidewalks or walking paths are not available.
Motorists should remember that the penalty for hitting a cyclist is no different than colliding with another vehicle. Is there a possibility that the cyclist was in the wrong? Yes, but the driver who leaves the scene of a hit and run accident is going to have a much more difficult time convincing a jury that the cyclist is responsible for his or her own injuries. If you hit a cyclist, stop, offer assistance, provide your insurance information and don’t admit liability. In the moments following an accident, it is always better to limit conversation to the immediate needs of those involved, as a bicycle accident lawyer.