Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Bike Safety and Manners

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Please share the road with bicycles!

The other day my daughters were biking home from their school and my daughter signaled a left turn, pulled from the right to the left in the lane and made her left turn, but while the car behind her went past her, an adult male yelled out his window at her that she needed to stay in the "*&^&" bike lane and use the crosswalks.

Excuse me, but if you drive a car you are expected to share the road with bicycles. In addition, many of the people on those bicycles are youth who deserve your protection and respect.

Parents like me take great care to make sure that our children take a bicycle safety class before they share the road with cars and in those classes, we were taught that a bike is like a car and needs to follow the same traffic rules.

Here is the DMV rule: 21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
In our class we were told if you use a crosswalk, you are a pedestrian and need to walk your bike. I think maybe people who drive cars need a little more training about bikes and sharing the road. Adult men who yell at teenage girls need more social training, as well.

Drivers - please follow some basic bike safety rules around bikes, especially near schools:
  • Check the bike lane. When turning right across a bike lane, always look behind you for a bicyclist. If someone is approaching, wait rather than trying to “beat” them.
  • Pass with ample room. Except over a double yellow line, you can cross the center line to pass a bicyclist safely, as long as oncoming traffic is clear. Passing close, especially over 25 mph, is very scary for cyclists.
  • Don’t honk to communicate with cyclists unless there’s an emergency. If your horn sounds loud from inside your car, imagine how loud and shocking it is from just in front of it.
  • Be cautious in residential neighborhoods. Children riding bikes or running on the sidewalk may not see you and if you aren't slowing down before they cross the street, you could run them over.
  • Look for cyclists before opening your door. When parking on the street, make sure you’re not opening your car door into the path of a cyclist.
  • Use good manners. Apologize if you make a mistake and it will go a long way; eye contact and waves are very humanizing, especially in the stress of rush-hour traffic.
  • Give children extra space. Children on bicycles are often more wobbly than adults, and more likely to turn or stop suddenly without looking or signaling. It is best not to pass a child on a bicycle unless you have many feet of space and proceed extremely slowly.
Photo credit: richardmasoner
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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