Sharing the Road: Six Tips for Motorists and Cyclists From a Personal Injury Lawyer

April 11, 2017
Jonathan J. Russell

As a Doylestown personal injury attorney, this time of year brings with it awareness of an increased number of bicycles riders out on the country roads of Bucks County. Sharing the road with bicyclists, whether riding alone or as part of a cycle club, can be a challenge for many motor vehicle drivers. We thought this would be good time for both drivers and riders to be reminded of several tips in order to avoid accidents involving bicycles.

Tips For Sharingbicycle-accidents-thumb the Road

1. Remember that operators of pedalcycles, including bicycles, when ridden on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. While cyclists cannot ride on freeways (limited access highways), they can on all other roads. Moreover, while cyclists have to ride on the right side of the road, they do not have to ride on the far right or shoulder of the road, unless they are moving slower than the prevailing speed of traffic at the time. Cyclists are not permitted to ride more than two abreast on any roadway.

2. Motor vehicle operators should always reduce their speed when approaching and passing a cyclist. Allow a sufficient amount of space, at least 3 feet or more between your vehicle and a cyclist. Be especially careful when approaching a hill or incline. Wait to pass a cyclist, only after you have determined that you can adequately see approaching traffic and yield appropriately. Always allow for an adequate distance when merging back into the desired lane, as some experienced bikers may be traveling at speed that is faster than you may think.

3. Motorists should be especially cautious when approaching and passing a child on a bike. In business districts in Pennsylvania, pedalcycles (other than tricycles) cannot be ridden on the sidewalk. Children who are riding bikes in the street may not be aware that a vehicle is approaching from behind, as they are typically only concerned with what is in front of them. Additionally, children can be easily distracted or lose their balance, causing them to quickly veer toward the center of the roadway. Since you never know what to expect when approaching a child on a bicycle, as a licensed motor vehicle operator, expect the unexpected.

4. Use added caution at intersections and yield whenever appropriate. While cyclist should use hand signals to alert others to their intended movement, this is not always done. The signal for making a left turn (hand pointing outward to the left); a right turn (hand pointing to the right or straight up); or a desire to stop or slow down (a hand pointing straight down) should be used by cyclists sharing the road with motorists. Motorist also need to recognize that their eyes will sometime “see” but not “perceive” bicycle operators. For a further discussion about this topic, click on the link to our previous article entitled, “Seeing But Not Perceiving”.

5. Bikes of any type that are operated on roadways between sunset and sunrise are required to be equipped with a white front headlamp and a rear red reflector that can both be seen from a distance of 500 feet. Pedalcycles are also required to have amber reflectors on either side, if ridden during these same time periods.

6. If an accident should occur, follow the same steps that you would follow for a motor vehicle accident. Pull over to a safe location and call for the police and medical help if necessary. Exchange insurance information, and contact your insurance company to file a claim as soon as possible. If a bicyclist is struck by a car, the bicyclist own personal auto insurance will provide medical payment coverage and possibly wage loss coverage, as well as underinsured motorist coverage, depending on the losses and harms sustained.

Recognizing that our community’s roads are not just for automobiles is an important first step in being able to understand how to safely share the road with others. Observing these six tips will help ensure that both cyclist and motorists alike are able to share the road, in a responsible and considerate manner.

Contact An Accident Lawyer 

For more than 35 years, the attorneys at Drake, Hileman and Davis have been helping those injured in bicycle accidents. If you, or someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident call us at 1-888-777-7098 for a free consultation in the comfort of your home or in the convenience of our office. There is never any fee unless we recover for you.