Francine says: I'm not an experienced biker and since you are, what about a quick rundown of dos and don'ts for both drivers and those new to biking. It could give us something to think about as riders but also help us out as drivers when sharing the road with cyclists. Like a dumbed-down version of what you know and deal with on a daily basis. I know I'd find something like that helpful, maybe others would too?
- Always be looking out for bikers, be aware that we are everywhere. Be especially careful around kids on bikes as they tend to be less predictable.
- Understand that we are not usually being jerks but are dealing with hazards and other issues that you may not be aware of.
- Always give at least 3 feet of space when passing. This is now a law in many places and if it isn't, it should be. If there is not 3 feet of space to pass, be patient and ride slowly behind (at a safe distance) until there is. There is nothing so important that you need to sideswipe a biker to get there. Often, you don't realize how far your mirrors come out. Give more space than you think necessary and bikers will be eternally grateful.
- Put away your sandwich, lipstick, and your cell phone. Be sober! Treat driving as a privilege, not a right. Remember that cars can and do kill, and it only takes a moment of distraction for something terrible to happen.
- Wait for bikes to pass before pulling into a bike lane to park/turn. (There is little I hate more than having a car stop right in front of me and expect me to swerve into traffic, just so they can get that sweet parking spot).
- Don't assume we are all jerky bikers who think we are better than everyone else.
- Ride a bike. The best way to understand bikers is to become one. Know what it is like to be passed within inches, to start slowly at a stop sign with cars bearing down on you from behind, why bikers sometimes can't use bike lanes or use sidewalks and sometimes need to use a full traffic lane.
- Don't assume you have the right-of-way, even if you do. Don't take a turn that is not yours, unless the driver(s) see you and wave you through.
- Don't assume people see you or know how to drive around you.
- Always be aware, present, and alert. Be sober.
- Continuously look around, plan your route around hazards, and have escape plans for possible dangerous situations.
- Watch out for drivers' blind spots and opening doors.
- Ride predictably. Use turn signals properly. Ride in a straight path, don't zip in between parked cars. Make eye contact with drivers, bikers, and pedestrians who might be getting into your path.
- Try to use education rather than profanities when interacting with a less-than-perfect driver.
- Use your bell and a kind "on your left" when passing other bikers, pedestrians.
- Stay off the sidewalks, ride as if you were a car, remember to obey traffic laws, ride with the flow of traffic.
- Don't be that jerky biker who thinks they are better than everyone else.
- A smile and wave goes a long way in reinforcing drivers' good behavior and reminding people that you are a real person and appreciate their help in keeping you alive.