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- A project of Bedford Friends of the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway
and the Bedford Bicycle Advisory Committee

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Sharing the Road with Bicyclists:
What Every Motorist Should Know

graphic copyright (C) Andrew B. Singer - used with permission
by Paul Schimek
Bicycle Program Manager
Boston Transportation Department

The law treats bicyclists as drivers of vehicles. Bicyclists have the same rights as motorists to use the public roads, except expressways where posted. With the right comes the responsibility to follow the rules of the road. Never tell a bicyclist to get off the road. Sidewalk bicycling is dangerous and generally illegal.

Pass at a safe distance to the left. If it is not safe to pass within the same lane, use the adjacent lane if it's clear. If not, slow and wait for a more favorable opportunity. Avoid using your horn. Courteous bicyclists will allow motorists to pass when safe, and courteous motorists will not expect to have the right to pass when it isn't.

Drivers, whether bicyclists or motorists, have a right to use as much of the road as necessary to be safe, even if this might cause delay. Bicyclists may ride further left than you might think necessary for many reasons: to avoid obstacles or opening car doors; to overtake; to prepare a left turn; to avoid a right-turn area; or to prevent overtaking within a narrow lane.

Most car-bicycle collisions happen at intersections. Many are caused by bicyclists riding against traffic or failing to yield. Here's what you can do to avoid the most common ones caused by motorists:

  • Merge to the far right edge of the road in advance of turning right. Do not turn across the path of a bicyclist; slow and wait behind instead.
  • Yield to opposite direction traffic when turning left. Bicyclists may be traveling much faster than you think.
  • When entering the road from a driveway, stop or yield sign, or parking space, you must look for and yield to bicyclists on the roadway.

Motorists have few problems with bicyclists who ride predictably according to the rules of the road. The problem is with bicyclists who appear by surprise. There are three things you can do about that:

  1. bicycle predictably and instruct your children to also;
  2. encourage the police to enforce the traffic law;
  3. be extra cautious around bicyclists who seem to be riding unpredictably.

motoristshouldknow.shtml last modified Saturday, 04-Jan-2014 16:37:01 MST jmp

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