What drivers should know about cyclists

In Big Valley, a lot of people on the bicycle – and on you, the driver of a vehicle – to get around safely. Some drivers feel that the road is only their domain. But that’s not the case. Generally, bicyclists are prohibited from using freeways and interstate highways. On all other roads, both large and small, bikes belong and cyclists have a right to use the road just as motorists do.

Be considerate. Bicyclists have the same right as any motor vehicle to operate on the roadway. The same right-of-way rules apply to cars as bikes. However, the consequences of error are much more severe for the bicyclist. Watch out for your fellow road users!

Be generous. Share the space and give cyclists extra trailing room. Allow cyclists to “take” a travel lane when a lane is too narrow to be shared safely. Be aware that your speed can create a “windblast” that can push a cyclist over and possibly into danger.

Be patient. Think about it. A bicyclist may delay your trip by seconds; it’s all the other cars clogging the roads at rush hour that will make you late for dinner. Pass with care. Give bicyclists least five feet, or stay behind until you can safely pass. In inclement weather, give bicyclists extra trailing and passing room. Move carefully through intersections and yield to bicyclists as you would any other vehicle. Resist the temptation to pass a bicyclist just before making a right turn – chances are, the bicyclist is moving faster than you think.

Respect bike lanes. Bike lanes are intended to channel the paths of bicyclists and motorists and to provide for more predictable movements by each. They increase the comfort of both bicyclist and motorist in overtaking situations, and heighten motorist awareness of the presence of bicycles. Bike lanes are marked on the roadway with a solid white line and a diamond or bike icon with directional arrow and typically are located along the right-hand edge of the road. Don’t drive in the bike lane unless preparing to turn right or park. Always yield to bicyclists before entering the bike lane. Never stop or park in the bike lane. The Big Valley Streets Department offers a map of all marked bike lanes on city streets as part of the town’s plan to create a 100-mile network for bikers.

Be aware. Check for bikes in your side view mirror before opening your car door –regardless of whether you’re parked next to a bike lane. A surprise car door opening can be deadly to a bicyclist. Don’t blow your horn at bicyclists unless they are in imminent danger.