Americans are increasingly bicycling to commute, for exercise, or just for fun. By law, bicycles on the roadway are vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles.1 As you might expect, when crashes occur between a motor vehicle and a bike, it’s the cyclist who is most likely to be injured.1 A large percentage of crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other.1 According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2020, 938 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes.1
There are two main types of crashes: the most common (falls), and the most serious (the ones with cars). Regardless of the reason of the crash there are things you can do to decrease your risk of a crash:
Be prepared before heading out
Ride a bike that fits you
Ride a bike that works
Wear equipment to protect you and make yourself more visible to others
Drive defensively-focused and alert
Drive with the flow, in the same direction as traffic
Obey street signs, signals, and road makings, just like a car
Assume the other person doesn’t see you
Check your law to make sure sidewalk riding is legal
Watch for pedestrians
Pass pedestrians with care by first announcing “on your left” or “passing on your left” or use a bell
Improve your riding skills
Start by riding your bike in a safe environment away from traffic (a park, path, or empty parking lot).
Take an on-bike class through your schools, recreation department, local bike shop or bike advocacy group.
Review and practice as a safe pedestrian or bicyclist is a great preparation for safe riding.
People on bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as people behind the wheel of a vehicle.1
Yield to bicyclists as you would motorists and do not underestimate their speed. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.
In parking lots, at stop signs, when packing up, or when parking search your surroundings for other vehicles, including bicycles.
Drivers turning right on red should look to the right and behind to avoid hitting a bicyclist approaching from the right rear. Stop completely and look left-right-left and behind before turning right on red.
Obey the speed limit, reduce speed for road conditions and drive defensively to avoid a crash with a cyclist.
Give cyclists room. Do not pass too closely. Pass bicyclists as you would any other vehicle-when it's safe to move over into an adjacent lane.