As the temperature drops and the rainy season begins in earnest, the normally bike-friendly Northwest becomes a more dangerous place for cyclists.
Wet leaves, black ice, and frequent rain or snow don’t help driving conditions for cyclists—or drivers.
Winter Driving 101
- Cyclists have a right to be in the lane of traffic. They’re not riding there to annoy you, or slow down your commute. During winter months, they are probably avoiding the bike lane because of ice or piles of wet leaves.
- Use your turn signal so bicyclists—and other vehicles—know where you’re going. This should be second nature for safe drivers.
- Leave them some room. Wet roads are more dangerous for bikes then for cars, and rain or snow extends the stopping distance for a bike as well as a car. Leave a little extra room when following or passing a cyclist.
- Remember they’re dealing with the same factors that affect how you drive—potholes, train tracks, cars that turn without signaling —but these things are much more dangerous when you’re on a bicycle.
- Do not honk or yell at a bicyclist. Cyclists are concentrating on their ride: honking can be very startling. If you need to alert someone to your presence, a light tap on the horn is sufficient.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has great tips for cyclists—like planning a longer stopping distance, lowering your tire pressure, and relying less on the front brake—or see Bicycle Safety tips here.
Drive safely. Ride safely.
Image: Rawich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net