Please, no honking at bicyclists

September 11, 2015


Have you noticed that there are more bicyclists on the road – both adult and children? In fact, tells us that roughly 865,000 workers in the U.S. used bicycles as their main mode of commuting in 2012. In just two decades, the number of U.S. bicyclists jumped 64 percent (1990 to 2009), reports the University Transportation Research Center in a 2011 study. Closer to home, the Research Center says, cycling in New York City was up 75 percent from 2000 to 2007.


In our Greater Utica community, we have a robust immigrant population and a large number are using bicycles to get to work. Our youth are also taking to the road on their bicycles. It may very well be that some of them do not fully know the rules of the road, or ignore them, putting themselves and drivers at risk. In addition, as the daylight hours diminish, our bicyclists may be going home at dusk – a time that makes them more difficult to see. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 741 bicycling deaths in 2013 were due to collisions with autos.


So, what’s a driver to do?


  • When you see a bicyclist on the road, slow down and stay at least four feet away. Remember, bicyclists may be unpredictable. They may not have noticed you. Child bicyclists are harder to see and are especially unpredictable. Be extra cautious.


  • By slowing down, you are giving a warning to cars behind you that they should also be cautious.


  • Before opening your car door, look to your left – not only from your rearview mirror, but actually turn around to get a full view.


  • When turning right, look to your right to make certain that the bicyclist is far enough behind you.


  • Parallel parking can be more dangerous when bicyclists are nearby.


  • Remember, a bicyclist has the same rights of the road that a car has. Give the bicyclist the right of way as you would a car.


  • Bicycles should have reflectors for nighttime riding; however, not all do. Keep your eyes open.


  • Like motorcyclists, bicyclists should be using the signals of the road. Look for the signals and give them the right of way when appropriate.


  • Bicycles are considered vehicles. Should you collide with a bicyclist, follow the same procedures you would if you had collided with a car. Pull over, call the police, call for medical help, if necessary, and give the cyclist your insurance information.


  • Don’t tailgate.


  • Allow extra time for a bicyclist to maneuver a turn at an intersection.


  • When passing, wait for safe traffic conditions.


  • Finally, do NOT honk your horn when you are close to a bicyclist. You don’t want to scare him or her into an accident.
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