As spring slowly rolls into summer, now is the time of year when motorcyclists and bicyclists are taking to the open road. The dearth of cyclists on the road in the colder months of the year can make drivers a little lazy about remembering how to properly share the road, which can lead to far too manyor bicyclists. The most important fact to keep in mind is that every rider is legitimate and has earned the right to share space on the road with fellow travelers. May is and , so do those individuals the honor of being extra diligent about your driving behavior, and develop good habits for sharing the road.
If You’re Operating a Motor Vehicle…
1. Be aware of your surroundings. Distracted driving is an epidemic. It only takes a second for a driver to collide with another easily seen vehicle, let alone a harder-to-spot bike or motorcycle. Use your rearview mirrors, and check your blind spots before turning or changing lanes so that you don’t crash into a motorcyclist or bicyclist.
2. Share the road. You may feel that because you’re the one with the car you have the upper hand no matter what the situation. Motorcyclists have the right to their own personal space on the road and in their lane, and it’s also important to leave enough space in between your vehicle and the motorcycle if you’re following one in case of sudden stops. Bicyclists should use bike lanes where marked but in undesignated areas, it’s your job to be cautious about their presence and carefully maneuver around them or follow them as necessary.
If You’re Operating a Motorcycle…
3. Protect yourself: There is nothing to protect a motorcyclist from the road in case of a crash, unlike motor vehicle operators who have the walls of their car surrounding them. Wear safety gear, including a helmet (even if your state doesn’t have a helmet law, like Michigan and Pennsylvania), non-slip gloves, riding boots, and leather clothing to protect against traumatic brain injury, road burn, and other common motorcycle accident injuries.
4. Be a defensive driver: It can feel powerful to be the motorcyclist on the road, able to fit into tight spaces, weave through vehicles, and move fast. But just because you can do all these moves doesn’t mean you should. You already know you’re at a disadvantage as the smaller vehicle on the road. Be as courteous of motor vehicle operators as you would expect them to be of you. Follow the speed limit, allow space around your bike, and share the road too. Be a defensive driver, but don’t be offensive.
If You’re Operating a Bicycle…
5. Make your presence known: Bicyclists are obviously at a disadvantage on the road alongside motor vehicles and motorcyclists and are without the same kind of power or strength. But common sense should be in place, and that includes making yourself known to your fellow travelers. Wear bright, reflective clothing and outfit your bicycle with reflectors and lights to increase visibility.
6. Plan ahead and think ahead: Always plan out your route on your bike before taking off. This extra awareness helps you think ahead about the landmarks and intersections that may be more cumbersome to navigate. Also keep a constant eye on the road ahead when biking, maintaining awareness about pot holes, puddles, trash, or other debris or hazards that could make you wreck.
Every vehicle on the road has the responsibility of observing the laws of riding with traffic, signaling, yielding, and more.Follow the rules of the road, no matter what kind of vehicle you’re operating. Respect your fellow drivers, don’t drive drunk or distracted, and you will safely get from Point A to Point B.
David Christensen is a personal injury attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He helps bicycle riders obtain compensation from insurance companies after a.