Every city has a slightly different biking environment, and that extends to the local laws and ordinances at play. Some cities require bicyclists to stay on the road if they’re over the age of thirteen. Some cities allow and even prefer, sidewalk cycling in specific areas. But even if you’re well-versed in your town’s preferred cycling routes, the pedestrians and drivers around you will be less prepared. Be extra vigilant in these three locations:
1. Neighborhoods with front-facing driveways.
Whether you’re on the road or on the sidewalk, front-facing driveways are a unique hazard. People reversing out of their homes may have checked the road for other vehicles but not for bicycles. There are also more obstructions, such as the neighbors’ driveways that prevent visibility if around cautious drivers. If you’re on the sidewalk, you also need to look for cars that are parked over the sidewalk’s path. Under most circumstances, you have the right of way. But be cautious and, in the event of a collision, take note of the specific circumstances.
Opportunities for uncertainty are the most dangerous when you’re on a bike, and that’s true even in neighborhoods. If you see an intersection approaching, slow down and check if it’s a four-way stop or if one direction is a through lane. If you’re on the sidewalk and next to a car that’s waiting to turn in front of your path, try to establish eye contact and communicate who will go first.
3. Neighborhood exits.
Luckily, many drivers are vigilant in neighborhoods because they are less surprised to see bicyclists. However, once drivers are turning onto a major road, that passive expectation fades. The most dangerous sidewalk position is if you’re going against the flow of traffic near an exit point. Drivers look left to check for approaching traffic, and that includes glancing at the sidewalk. They’re much less likely to check the sidewalk to the right.
Being cautious while biking keeps you safe, but it doesn’t remove drivers’ responsibility to do the same. If you’ve been in a collision, contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin for a plaintiff attorney who can help.