Bike Safety: What Drivers and Cyclists Need to Know  

Riding your bike is a great way to get to know your community – and get in some low-impact exercise. But when you’re riding outdoors, there are some general rules that cyclists should follow to safe while sharing the road. Rules aren’t just for cyclists though: drivers can keep cyclists safe, too, by sharing the road and following some simple guidelines when passing. 

There’s plenty of room for cars and bikes to coexist! If you’re in Michigan and new to biking, considering trying out a bike trail to hone your skills before venturing out into the road.  

Here are some safety tips for drivers and bikers to follow. 

Safety for Bicyclists:   

  1. Make sure drivers can see you. Wear bright, neon clothing and ride during the day. If you must ride in the early morning, in the evening or at night, wear reflective clothing and use flashing lights.  
  2. Wear a helmet. Adults and children should wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how long or short it is. There should be no more than one or two fingers between your chin and the strap, and the helmet should not rock more than one inch around your head.  
  3. Check your gear. Make sure your bike is adjusted to your height and that all parts are secure and working before heading out. Check that your bike tires are inflated properly.  
  4. Watch for debris. Gravel or fallen sticks and tree limbs could make you fall off your bike or swerve. 
  5. Have a plan. If you’re riding by yourself, tell someone of your plans and make sure you have a way to call for help if needed if you’re considering going a long distance away from home. If you’re considering a long ride, take water and snacks with you.  
  6. Follow the rules of the road. Understand local traffic laws. If you’re riding on the road, as bicyclists must follow the same rules as drivers: ride single file with traffic, stay as far right as possible and use hand signals when turning. If you’re in a group, only two bicyclists can ride next to each other in a lane. In some cities, bicyclists aren’t allowed on the sidewalk.  

Safety for Drivers  

  1. Give space. Michigan law requires drivers to give bicyclists at least three feet of space when passing. Some cities require five feet of passing distance.  
  2. Yield. Yield to a bicyclist just as you would another vehicle, and don’t underestimate their speed.  
  3. Stay alert. Avoiding distractions, taking extra caution at intersections and following the posted speed limit are important to ensure safety for both you and others sharing the road. 
  4. Check before you get out of your vehicle. If you’ve parallel parked on a street, check for bicyclists in your side mirror before opening your door and exiting your vehicle. Try a technique called the “Dutch reach” or  “far hand reach.”  

When drivers and cyclists look out for each other, it ensures everyone is doing their part to share the road. 

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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