As an avid cyclist and personal injury attorney who is familiar with the law, I was especially saddened by the tragic hit and run incident that occurred in February in Ft. Pierce where a bicyclist was killed. Whenever I ride my bike, in the back of my mind there is always the fear that I could be run off the road or hit by a vehicle and, along with most cyclists you will speak to, I have had my share of close calls.
I never head out on my bike without carefully planning my route in advance, always attempting to travel where there are the least amount of cars on the road. But there is only so much a cyclist can do to protect themselves.\’a0 There are, however, a number of things that motorists need to be reminded of so they can Share the Road safely.
Bicycles do not belong on the sidewalk. Bicycles are vehicles and riding on the sidewalk is unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.Cyclists are not required to ride on the shoulder. While cyclists have the option to do so, riding on the shoulder can present other hazards to cyclists.The safest place for a cyclist to ride is toward the middle of the lane of traffic. Riding in the lane of traffic increases a cyclist’s visibility to motorists, gives the cyclist more operating room and discourage motorists from trying to squeeze past them in narrow lanes.
Sharing the Road isn’t a simple, friendly request. Its the law. It means cyclists are entitled to full use of the lane in most circumstances, and motorists need to wait until it’s safe to pass. When passing a cyclist, motorists are required to give the cyclist at least three feet of space. On a two lane road, this typically means a motorist needs to actually cross over the dividing line to legally pass a cyclist. It is perfectly legal to cross a double yellow line to pass a bicycle safely. Not doing so is not only dangerous, but a violation of law. If a driver intentionally gets too close to a cyclist, it could be considered a criminal act.
Of course cyclists have a responsibility to follow the law as well. Since a bicycle on the road is considered a vehicle, all of the rules of the road apply. Sharing the road safely is the responsibility of both motorists and cyclists.
Whenever a person is riding a bicycle on the roadway they are vulnerable. A crash with an impatient or inattentive motorist can easily be fatal. While everyone is in a hurry, I hope this simple message reminds you to take a breath, slow down, pay attention, and put safety first.