How to handle bicycle riders with care
Many challenges with cyclists could be avoided if motorists accepted the bicycle as a vehicle. On our Jamaican roadways, road users often complain about the action or non- action of cyclists. “Some of these bicycle riders are always on the wrong side of the road without any concern for the motoring public,” says Andrea Rattray of the Ministry of Education and Youth. “They ‘bob and weave’ in and out of the heavy traffic, with no head gear or any protective gear at all,” she adds.
Motor car drivers and bicycle riders use the same space on the roads and, therefore, by cooperating, they can avoid unnecessary conflicts, problems, and heartaches. A bicycle rider may be hard to see because of being small and unprotected compared to a car. At nights, these riders can be seen if they wear light-coloured clothing and have reflectors and lights on their bicycles. An even safer rule is not to ride a bicycle after dark.
It may be fair to admit that there are a few riders who obey the traffic laws. However, some riders run the stop signs, fail to signal for turns, ride with one hand, ride with one or two pillions, without due care for other road users. There are also those blatant ones who ride into the streets from driveways or side streets without any type of warning. As a defensive driver, if you observe such reckless riders, be ready to slow down or stop as prevention is not only better, but cheaper than cure.
Traffic laws require bicycle riders to ride on the left side of the road with the flow of traffic. However, some ride on the right side of the street against the flow of traffic. When a rider is on the right side of the street, slow down ahead of time so that oncoming traffic can get by before you proceed past the cyclist.
Since bicycles have only two wheels, riders are likely to lose balance and control when going over rough roads. You may notice a cyclist heading for a storm drain with an open grate cover, broken pavement, or other obstacle. You will have to assume that the bicycle rider will have to ride around the hazard to avoid it or will possibly fall.
Preventing conflicts with bicycle riders:
Here are some simple ways to avoid conflicts with bike riders:
1. Help identify bike riders by adjusting your position. At night, use low-beam headlights or a brief flick of high-beam headlights so that others can see bike riders.
2. Reduce speed if needed.
3. Never try to pass a bike rider in a tight situation.
4. Warn a bike rider, when necessary, with an early tap on the horn.
5. Signal your intentions ahead of time. Bike riders behind, who are moving close to the curb, may not know that you plan to turn or stop in front of them.
6. Ensure that you look for cyclists before opening your door. Blocking a cyclist’s path by opening a door is one cause of an accident.