Photo Courtesy ADOT: ADOT reminds drivers and bicyclists to share the roadways.
Riders and motorists have roles in making bicycling safe and enjoyable
PHOENIX – May is National Bike Month, and the Arizona Department of Transportation has tips to help riders and motorists make bicycling a safe and enjoyable way to get around.
Be sure to check out Share the Road, ADOT’s pocket guide explaining how bicyclists and motorists can coexist legally and safely in Arizona. The more bicyclists and motorists understand each other’s needs, the better we all can respect and cooperate on state highways and local streets.
Bicyclists may be surprised to learn that they have the same rules, rights, and responsibilities as others on the road. They must follow traffic laws in school zones by slowing down and not passing any other vehicle. In modern roundabouts, bicyclists must yield to traffic – including other bicyclists – already in the roundabout, just as motorists are required to do. Another option at a modern roundabout is dismounting and walking a bike like a pedestrian.
Meanwhile, bicyclists have additional responsibilities when it comes to protecting themselves, including a requirement under state law to use, at a minimum, a rear red reflector and white front headlight. State law requires bicyclists to use hand signals to show their intentions. Some Arizona cities and counties require bicyclists under age 18 to wear a helmet, but helmets and mirrors are essential to your safety regardless of whether they are required.
Most of all, ride defensively. Be aware of your surroundings, including the possibility that vehicles will turn, doors of parked cars will open and side traffic will enter the roadway without seeing you. Make eye contact with drivers to confirm you’re on their radar.
Motorists, you aren’t off the hook when it comes to bicycle safety. When changing lanes, turning left or right, opening your car door, or pulling out from driveways, be aware that cyclists could be in the vicinity and may be traveling faster than you’d expect. State law requires you to give at least 3 feet of clearance when you pass a bicyclist, but allow 5 feet when possible.
Both bicyclists and motorists can help keep themselves and each other safer by resisting the temptation to look at their smartphones rather than the road. Conditions can change in an instant regardless of whether you are pedaling or pressing an accelerator.
All of this is just a starting point. Please check out Share the Road to learn not just about safety but ways to make bike commuting easier and what other state laws bicyclists should keep in mind.