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Tips for Drivers and Bicyclists to "Share the Road"

Riding a bicycle to school, work, or other engagements is a great alternative to driving a car or other type of motor vehicle. Bicycling is dramatically cheaper, better for the environment, and nearly eliminates parking concerns. Unfortunately, Atlanta roads can be dangerous for cyclists.

According to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, approximately 106,000 people recently showed up to an event to rally for major improvements to allow Atlanta residents to more safely use bicycles as their primary form of transportation. Though the city has improvements in the works, bicyclists and drivers should all concentrate on keeping each other safe.

Bicycles are vehicles and cyclists have just as much of a right to use the roads as others. Though many roads have clearly marked bicycle lanes, these lanes do not prevent all collisions and injuries. Additionally, on roads without bicycle lanes, cyclists and motorists must have a clear understanding of traffic laws, right of way, and more to avoid accidents.

The Georgia Department of Transportation offers a convenient guide for both motorists and bicyclists to encourage safe driving and riding practices. The following are some examples of safety tips for sharing the road.

  • Bicyclists must follow traffic laws. Just as cyclists have all the rights to use the road, they also have all of the same responsibilities to follow traffic laws. When a bicyclist violates traffic regulations, they can receive a ticket just like any motorists, and they also put themselves and motorists at risk of serious injuries.
  • Drivers must scan for bicyclists. Just as a driver should regularly keep an eye out for other cars and trucks before they switch lanes, enter intersections, or make turns, they should also make it a regular practice to scan for bicyclists. Bicyclists are less visible and often seem to “come out of nowhere” when, in reality, the driver was simply not paying close enough attention to the surrounding traffic. Distracted driving behaviors only increase the chance that a driver will not adequately notice a bicyclist.
  • Practice safe passing. Bicycles are slower vehicles and so many drivers may become impatient when behind a cyclist and may wish to pass them. When passing, ensure you are able to leave at least three feet of space between your vehicle and the bicycle as wind coming off your vehicle can cause the bicyclist to swerve or weave a little bit. If you are unable to safely pass the bicycle, make sure to follow at a safe distance and never tailgate.
  • Never cut one another off while turning. Some drivers may attempt to speed up past a bicyclist in order to make a turn in front of a bicyclist. This is highly dangerous, as drivers may often misjudge the speed of a bicycle and the cyclist may not be able to stop before they collide in to the turning car. Similarly, a bicyclist should always avoid trying to beat oncoming traffic while turning as the drivers may not notice the cyclist until it is too late.

Both drivers and bicyclists have the duty to share the road in a reasonably safe manner. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident with a negligent party, Goldstein & Hayes, P.C.'s personal injury lawyers in Atlanta can help.