6 tips for motorists to share the road with bicyclists

Last week I wrote about cyclists and tips for safe cycling on the roadway. Motorists, it is your responsibility to share the road with cyclists and other vehicles on the roadway.

Motorists and bicyclists in Washington have exactly the same rights, rules and responsibilities in sharing the road. Tips for motorists:

• Slow down when passing a bicycle, especially a child on a bike, and give three feet of clearance between your vehicle and the bicycle. Provide extra passing room to bicyclists during rain and other bad weather. Wait to pass if you are uncertain about road or weather conditions.

• It is illegal to pass a bicycle if oncoming traffic is near. Wait! No vehicle shall be driven on the left side of the roadway when a bicycle or pedestrian is within view of the driver and is approaching from the opposite direction, or is present, in the roadway, shoulder, or bicycle lane within a distance unsafe to the bicyclist or pedestrian due to the width or condition of the roadway, shoulder, or bicycle lane. [RCW 46.61.125 (1)(d)]

• Yield to cyclists when you are turning. Many car/bike accidents are caused by turning in front of a cyclist. Be aware of any cyclists who may be on your right at an intersection. The straight through vehicle, car or bike, has the right of way. Cyclists may be traveling faster than you realize.

• NEVER honk at a bicyclist; they will be aware of your presence since they can hear you. Note to cyclists: it is against the law to wear headphones when riding a bicycle.

• When getting out of your vehicle check for a passing cyclist before opening your door.

• On roads that are too narrow to permit a bicycle and a car to safely share the lane, bicyclists are permitted to “take the travel lane” which means riding in the center or the right hand wheel track of the travel lane.

Let’s all work together to make the San Juan Islands not only the best but the safest place for all cyclists: residents and visitors.

Judy Packard

League of American Bicyclists

Friday Harbor