Those Pesky Cyclists … and How to Avoid Hitting Them

No matter how much you may hate bicyclists who slow down traffic and often shoot out of nowhere, here’s the hard truth: you can’t do much about them. The law says that motorists have to share the road with cyclists, whether they like it or not.

And many of these cyclists don’t think the laws apply to them. They blow through stop signs, pass slower cars in the same lane, and weave in and out of traffic when they feel like it. Inevitably, it leads to an accident where the bicyclist goes flying head-over-keister onto the pavement and your vehicle is left with unsightly dents, scratches, and chipped paint. And facing the prospect of arranging for repairs, contacting your auto insurance agent, and driving around in an ugly vehicle is certainly enough to ruin your day, right?

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you avoid any untimely “meetings” with those pesky cyclists.
1. Watch for two-wheelers when turning left. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center says that this scenario accounts for almost half of all vehicle-vs.-bicycle accidents. So when checking for oncoming traffic and pedestrians, be sure to look out for cyclists as well.

>2. Don’t pass a cyclist and then turn right. If you see a bicyclist in a bike lane on your right, wait for him or her to pass the intersection before making your turn. If there’s no bike lane, just stay behind the cyclist until you turn.

3. When parallel parking, check your mirrors before opening your driver’s door. There could be a bicyclist coming toward you from behind. Opening your door just as the cyclist passes by – as viscerally satisfying as that might be – is not a good idea.

4. Watch for bicycles when leaving a parking lot. You know to check for traffic on the roadway and pedestrians on the sidewalk before exiting a parking lot or garage. But you should expand your view to include cyclists on the road or in the bike lanes. (If they’re breaking the law and riding their bicycle on the sidewalk, then it’s their own fault if they get hit.)

5. Give cyclists in front of you plenty of room when passing them. If possible, switch lanes to go by them. Otherwise, don’t wait until the last minute to swerve around them; you might overestimate their speed and ram into the back of them. Then the accident could not only damage your car’s exterior, but also its windshield or undercarriage as well. Talk about a real hassle!

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