Tips to drive safely around cyclists

CYCLING is gaining popularity in Bahrain. In Juffair alone, the number of cyclists has nearly doubled since last year due to the closure of health clubs and gyms because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With so many more bicycles on the road, there’s been an unavoidable spike in driver-cyclist dangerous interactions and accidents. The result? A whole lot of frustration and confusion among drivers and cyclists who don’t know how to get around each other.

Following are some tips for motorists to drive safely around cyclists:

1. Share the road. Drivers and cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities. The road doesn’t belong exclusively to any one particular category of user. As a driver, allow the cyclists the space they need to use the road safely. When passing, make sure to leave plenty of space for cyclists, at least 1.5 metres. If stuck behind a cyclist and passing isn’t a safe option, always maintain a wide gap. Finally, even though cyclists are encouraged to stay close to the curb, they aren’t obligated to do so.

2. Be careful when opening the car doors. If you’re exiting from the driver’s side, open the door with your right hand. This will force you to look over your left shoulder before you open the door. If you’re exiting from the other side of the vehicle, use your other hand. This technique is called the “Dutch reach”.

3. Shoulder check before turning right. Whenever you’re making a right turn, use the car signal and check your blind spot for any approaching cyclists. To avoid cutting anyone off, take a quick look over your right shoulder.

4. Look both ways before crossing a bike lane. Drivers will often assume the right of way through a bike lane, forcing cyclists to slam on the brakes or make dangerous manoeuvres to avoid being hit.

5. Use your signals. Some drivers seem to think that cyclists (and other cars) can read their minds. These drivers make lane changes and turn unpredictably and seem utterly oblivious to the cyclists swerving to avoid being hit.

6. Pay attention to the cyclist’s signals. Cyclists too are supposed to signal their intentions when riding. As bikes don’t have signal lights, cyclists use their hands.

7. Remember that cyclists are more affected by the weather than you. Cyclists can be blown off course by intense winds, have their vision impaired by excessive road dust, or have a tough time slowing down because of rain. What you can do to help is give cyclists the space to deal with the conditions. Be patient when bikes are going slow; they could be battling the wind.

8. Be extra careful in accident-prone situations. Certain situations are particularly dangerous for cyclists. In these situations, take extra precautions and drive slowly:

– At a roundabout when the cyclist is riding alongside you or trying to exit in front of you;

– On a narrow street with parked cars and no bike lanes;

– When approaching a junction (cyclists have less control at low speeds).

9. Look out for cyclists turning left. As you’re driving through an intersection, scan for cyclists waiting to turn left. Although it’s risky on busy roads, cyclists are permitted to turn left like cars do. Always be careful to stay in your lane and not side-swipe any cyclist at the intersection. When you yourself are waiting to turn left, you must wait for oncoming bikes to clear the intersection before turning, just as you would for another vehicle.




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