It’s warm out! And you know what that means—more cyclists! More and more cities have bike rental programs, and cities are increasing the number of bike lanes they provide. It’s great for health and the environment. But drivers need to change their habits to make it safer!
And remember: when we bike, you park more easily. So, start noticing us and think about changing your habits to ensure our safety and yours. The habits of drivers can change how we think of transportation and counter some of the more hateful attitudes against cyclists that have resulted in tragic consequences, as editor Ben Utter discussed last year.
Want to help create a bike-friendly culture? Sure you do.
- Bike lanes are for bikes. Don’t park in them. Don’t sit in them with your flashers. If you are doing construction or unloading items and blocking a bike lane, put cones out for cyclists so that they do not have to go into traffic to get around you.
- For US drivers, when you park, use your RIGHT hand to open your door. It will force you to turn so that you look behind you before doing it. If a biker is in the bike lane next to your car, they cannot know that you are about to open your door. Glance over your shoulder before you open your door. It’ll save your car door and, more importantly, the cyclist next to you.
- Look for us! We often only see what we expect to see—especially while driving. Just because cyclists aren’t cars doesn’t mean we aren’t there.
I’ve been riding in a bike lane and been directly in front of a car, but the driver still looked up, shocked, when he noticed I was there: even on my bright red bike with my bright red helmet.
Do you know why he was shocked? Because he simply wasn’t looking for a bike. He hadn’t noticed the large, newly painted bike lane on the road he was turning on to. He was only looking for cars.
Change your mentality. Cyclists are all around you—having fun, staying healthy, and saving parking spaces for you.
- When you turn, look for bikes behind you. Cyclists cannot see the turn signal of a car unless it is fully in front of them. They cannot know you are going to turn across a bike lane, for example, unless they see you from a distance. Make sure no cyclists are close to you before you turn.
Remember: biking, especially in a city, is a faster, more fun, and easier way to get around. It’s healthier and it’s better for the environment. Also, I’ve never had trouble parking a bike downtown in a busy city. More cyclists mean more parking for you, drivers! There are advantages all around.
So start thinking about bikes as a normal, frequent, and common mode of transportation to look out for. It will change a cultural perception, making us all safer and healthier.
And, when you can, join the fun. It’s a great way to get around!