Bicycle Safety: Creating a Safe Space for Drivers and Cyclists Alike

Monday, August 21, 2017 - 6:45pm
Tami L. Johnson

It’s been 2½  years since I got into the sport of road cycling, and I love it!  My husband, Mike, first introduced it to me and I was hooked right away.  The thrill of cruising down winding roads and challenging myself to the steep inclines was exhilarating!  Plus, it was something fun to do with others!  I have enjoyed being a part of several organized bike rides and look forward to many more.

Of course, with road cycling comes the worry of cars. There isn’t a road out there free of moving vehicles; but, more often than not, you better believe I’ll take the country road less traveled! 

I try to be as cautious as possible by wearing bright colors, turning on my bike lights when it’s dusk or dawn, and staying on the side of the road (where usually a bike lane exists).  I’m also always wearing a helmet.

With that being said, there are still going to be unfortunate accidents among drivers and cyclists. 

For example, on the morning of August 10th, while out training for the Wildflower Pedalfest, my friend Teresa and I were nearly hit head on. While waiting our turn to go right at a stop sign we came to a complete stop. 

Suddenly we see a vehicle come barreling around the corner.  It turned so sharply, coming right into our lane and smashing into my road bike. Teresa and I screamed with fear. Because I was in the innermost part of the lane, I was closest to being hit.

 I narrowly avoided what might have been a terrible accident thanks to my quick reflexes as I jumped off my bike.  I was grateful my bike suffered the damage and not me.  The driver told me he did not see my friend and I due to the sunlight in his eyes at that moment.  He apologized and I received the help I needed to later repair my bike. 

I also know, for certain, that the guiding influence of the Lord, is an absolute reason for my safety as I said my morning prayers that day. No doubt in my mind.

Not all accidents end so well.  I’d like to share some safety tips to consider while out on the road  in this warm weather:

Bicycles are vehicles

Bicycles are considered vehicles in Utah; thus, all bicyclists have the same rights and provisions as motorists and any other vehicle operators (except highways). This means motorists must share the road with cyclists, and bikers must obey the same traffic laws and signals as motorists, including stop signs, yield signs, and traffic lights.

Bicyclists should ride in the same direction as traffic and if there is no bicycle lane, bicyclists are required to ride as far right as possible unless turning left, going straight through an intersection past a turn-only lane, passing another bicyclist or vehicle or traveling in a lane too narrow to ride side by side.

Bicyclists do have to right to use the full lane in a roadway, if necessary

Program manager of Bicycle, Pedestrian and Motorcycles for the Utah Department of Public Safety, Jack Lasley, said, “I would say that not everyone is aware that a bicyclist does have the right to take a full lane if they need to do so for their own safety…motorists should respect that and pass them safely in the other lane.”

Signals and Passing
Bicyclists shouldn’t ride more than two-wide. Bikers should signal at least 3 seconds in advance with the intention to turn left or right.  Motorists must give at least 3 feet of space when passing the biker.  This rule is extremely important for motorists to obey this law.

Safety Features

Visibility on the roadway is critical for safely with cyclists. By law, bicycles are required to have a front head light in low-light conditions and a red reflector on the rear. Also wearing reflective, bright gear. 

Above all—Be Safe out there! No matter if you’re a driver with four wheels or a biker with two!