Driving Safely Around Cyclists
In Malaysia and most Asian countries, cyclists are a common sight on roads. Motorcyclists are already very common, but even those riding bicycles are becoming increasingly common given that more and more cities are encouraging such riders.
Locally, some highways even see cyclists, or rather motorcyclists in particular, sharing the same lanes as other automobiles like cars, trucks, and vans. This is partially because some highways do not have dedicated motorcycle lanes and it’s also because motorcycles are more affordable than cars and are therefore more commonly used by people.
As someone driving a car, truck or van, we need to be aware of our two-wheeled friends on the road and make sure that we do not put them in harm’s way. Cyclists, be it on bicycles or motorcycles, are more vulnerable to accidents and injuries no matter how careful they ride. This is because they are riding on two wheels and due to the lack of protection around their bodies unlike people inside passenger vehicles.
Here are a few tips to practice safer driving, especially with cyclists and motorcyclists in mind.
Mirrors and Blind spots
Generally speaking, it's always good to familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s mirrors and blind spots. As a responsible driver, you should be very familiar with your field of vision and also the blind spots that exist around your vehicle.
A good habit to have is to check your side and rear-view mirrors before making any lane changes, so you’ll be able to see if there are cyclists or motorcyclists coming up from behind you. This simple practice could go a long way in making the road safe overall, especially for those riding on two wheels.
Check before opening your doors
Checking your mirrors isn’t just a good habit for when your car is mobile, it’s also very good for when you’re about to exit your vehicle.
Sometimes when we’re busy gathering our things and stepping out of our vehicles, we fail to notice a cyclist that is about to ride past us. With our door opening suddenly, this may catch the cyclist off-guard and with no time to react, cause them to ride straight into your car door. Property damage to the bicycle/motorcycle and your car are sure to happen, but most importantly it could also result in injury to the riders themselves.
Of course, this danger is very easy to avoid. All you have to do is check your mirror real quick before you pop your door open!
Make no sudden moves
Being predictable on the road is good, because it allows cyclists as well as other drivers to anticipate your movements. Accidents in general often happen when something unexpected takes place on the road, such as sudden lane changes and sudden changes in a car’s speed. The same concern applies to cyclists as well. When they are riding next to or behind your car, it is important to make your intentions clear ahead of time so that they can avoid colliding with your vehicle.
This includes the basics that all drivers learn when obtaining their license: using your signals / indicators, not changing lanes without warning, and as mentioned earlier, checking your mirrors before making any significant movements. This way, you’ll help to create a safe environment for both the cyclist and yourself!
Give them space
One of the easiest ways to keep everyone safe on the road is to give them a lot of space. This means not coming up too closely behind cyclists, and also ensuring that there’s a much wider gap between your vehicle and theirs while passing or overtaking them. By being mindful in this way, you’ll be able to do your part to reduce risks while on the road.
Road safety is everyone’s shared responsibility. By being mindful of road users who are more vulnerable to risks, and by practicing good and safe driving habits, everyone will be able to get to their destination safely.