When you’re trying to be a conscientious driver, it’s easy to get frustrated with bicyclists who seem to be taking over the road. In fact, some motorists develop serious and immediate road rage when a bicycle rider is on their path. The thing is, bicyclists have rights too. If both of you break the law to get where you’re going, a bicycle accident is far more likely to follow.
It can be a struggle to stay calm alongside bicyclists, but it is possible to conquer your road rage so you can both stay safe as you share the road.
1. Pretend you live in a small town.
Maybe you do live in a small town, and you know most of your neighbors. Even if you live in an urban area, if you could name the person on the bike beside you, would you crowd them, tailgate, cut them off, or honk your horn? Or would you patiently wait for the opportunity to pass safely? If you wouldn’t engage in risky behavior around someone you know, why would you take the chance around anyone else? Sharing the road with bicyclists is the humane thing to do.
2. Give yourself plenty of time.
If you regularly travel the same routes, you know when the roads will be bicyclist-heavy. Any back roads will be even harder to traverse when you’re sharing the road with cyclists. Budget in some extra time for any delays and leave a little earlier than you might normally depart. If you aren’t in a rush, the bicyclists won’t bother you as much. And you’ll be less likely to be show aggression with other motorists and run the risk of a car accident.
3. Pay attention.
If you multi-task while you’re driving, you’re already putting yourself, pedestrians, and fellow motorists at risk. Distracted driving threatens bicyclists too. If you want to be a defensive driver, especially if cyclists are on the road, pay attention to what you’re doing. You won’t have to swerve or make your own passing zones if you’re aware of everything that’s going on around you. Your job behind the wheel is to drive your vehicle – that’s it. And driving includes sharing the road with others, including bicyclists.
4. Have a little empathy.
Plenty of drivers don’t know where they’re going, their car is sluggish, or they are super-cautious and follow every traffic law to the letter. You’ll find bicyclists fit into these categories too. Bike riders may be taking a new path, they’re struggling to make it up a particularly challenging hill, or they’re being incredibly careful so they don’t get into a bike accident. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Cyclists aren’t out there to ruin your day – they’re simply trying to get somewhere, just like you. Your methods for getting there, however, vary greatly.
5. Follow the law.
Michigan law requires motorists who are overtaking bicyclists traveling in the same direction to pass at a safe distance of at least three feet to the left of the bicycle. That means no crowding the cyclist and using caution when passing.
If you are involved in a bike accident – as a motorist or the cyclist – work with an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact David C. Femminineo, Michigan bicycle accident attorney in Macomb County, to schedule your consultation.