Always signal your intentions and needs to surrounding motorists. Being courteous promotes a safer riding environment and reduces incidents of road rage or aggressive driving.
Failure to Yield
Failure to yield the right-of-way by either the bicyclist or a motorist can cause a crash. Bicyclists can help prevent accidents by yielding the right-of-way when required to, stopping for red lights and stop signs, and scanning to make sure the way is clear before turning.
Wear light and bright clothing that can be seen easily during the day, and reflective materials and lights at night (and day, too, for extra visibility).
Use Extra Caution When Riding at Night
Consider the extreme risk of riding your bike at night– more than half of all adult fatal bicycle accidents in Florida occur during twilight and night hours. All bicyclists that ride at night are required to have lights from sunset to sunrise. You can take extra precautions using the tips below to stay safe at night.
Many factors compound the danger of riding at night, such as:
- Motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Motorists’ abilities to see what is ahead is limited to the area illuminated by headlights. Visibility is further reduced by the glare from lights of oncoming cars.
- Roadways with motor vehicle speeds above 40 MPH pose extreme risk at night.
- Red reflectors on the rear of a bicycle may be mistaken for reflectors on roadside mail boxes.
- Are you wearing highly reflective clothing? Are your bike lights operating?
Night Riding Tip
When a car approaches from the rear at night, watch your shadow as it is cast by the headlights. If it moves to the right as the car nears, the driver has moved to the left to pass. If it is stationary, the driver may not have detected you, move out of the way.
Scan the Roadway – front and rear
Like most riding skills, scanning to the rear takes practice. If you have trouble looking over your shoulder without swerving, try the following:
- Get a friend to hold your handlebars while you sit on the bike. Look over your left shoulder keeping both hands on the handlebars, and notice what your hands, arms, and shoulders are doing. Your left side is probably pulling back on the handlebar.
- After a little practice at moving only your head, find an empty parking lot and try it while riding in a straight line. Then try dropping your left hand and resting it on your thigh while looking over your left shoulder and coasting for a while.
Ride with the Flow of Traffic
Do not ride towards oncoming traffic. By riding against traffic, bicyclists remove themselves from the normal scanning pattern of other vehicle operators, making them more likely to be hit. In addition, the reaction time of both the motorist and bicyclist approaching one another is cut dramatically. Riding on the right side of the roadway – in the direction of the flow of traffic - can help prevent crashes.
Watch for Obstacles
Even if bicyclists are riding in a bike lane, there are several obstacles to be aware of. Obstacles include debris on the roadway, uneven pavement, stormwater grates, sudden rain, parked cars that suddenly move into traffic, a motorist suddenly opening the door of a parked car, wildlife entering the roadway, etc. Always scan ahead and prepared to stop abruptly if needed.
Safety Equipment can also make bicyclists and pedestrians more visible to vehicular traffic.
- Joggers and walkers in the roadway (when a sidewalk is not available) are encouraged to have a light, both day and night, for higher visibility.
- Look left-right-left before crossing a street.
- Walk FACING traffic and as far from traffic as possible if a sidewalk is not available.
- Pay attention when at an intersection crossing. Do not use your phone during your walk, especially at intersections.
- Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
- Look out for pedestrians and cyclists, especially in hard-to-see conditions.
- Pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk.
- Stop at the crosswalk stop line and yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk when making a right turn.
- Use your turn signals.
- Pay attention to the road – no distracted driving with cell phones or other items.
- Allow at least 3 feet between your car and a cyclist.