Those who drive cars and other motorized vehicles on the road need to respect bicyclists and their right to share the road. At the same time, bicyclists need to be aware of the rules as well for their own safety. The League of American Bicyclists has as Ride Smart webpage with online safety videos recommended for both drivers and cyclists.
Here are some quick safety tips for bicyclists:
- Wear a helmet. Helmets are required by Dallas City code and a just a good idea.
- Ride in the street, not on the sidewalks. Riding on sidewalks is allowed outside of the central business district, but not encouraged.
- Ride with traffic, not against it.
- Stop at red lights and stop signs. Obey all traffic signals, signs and pavement markings as if operating a motor vehicle.
- Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or when it is unsafe to do so. If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to safely travel side by side, you have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane. Bicycling is permitted on all main and local streets throughout the City, even when no designated route exists.
- Use a white headlight and a red taillight when riding at night, as well as a bell or horn, and reflectors.
- Ride in a straight line, obey traffic signs and signals, and do not weave in and out of traffic. Riding predictably reduces your chances of a crash with a motor vehicle.
- Look, signal, and look again before changing lanes or making a turn. Establish eye contact with drivers. Seeing a driver is often not enough. Make sure drivers see you before executing a turn or riding in front of a turning car.
- Watch out for car doors. Be prepared for the possibility that a car door may be opened in your path. When possible, leave room between yourself and parked cars (3 feet is generally recommended) so that you can avoid a door that opens unexpectedly.
- Stay visible. Wear brightly colored clothing for daytime riding. At night, use reflective materials and lights.
- Use a bell. A bell alerts drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists to your presence.
- Don’t wear earphones while riding. Keeping your ears clear is much safer choice.
Remember to perform regular maintenance and repairs on your bike, and bring an emergency kit with you while riding so you can repair or inflate your tires, if need be.
Here are tips for driving alongside bikes:
- Drivers of motor vehicles must treat bicycle riders the same as drivers of other motor vehicles.
- Be aware bicyclists have legal access to the roadway and must obey stop signs, traffic lights, and most other traffic laws and signs.
- Special care must be used near bicyclists because any accident with them will probably result in serious injury.
- Automobile drivers should leave safe passing room. If you are not sure you have enough room to pass, don’t.
- Be Patient.
- When turning, you MUST not turn so close to them that the bicyclist is in danger of being hit.
- Bicyclists can legally move to the left lane to turn left, to pass another vehicle or bicycle, or to avoid debris or parked cars.
- Bicyclists may have to swerve to avoid a car door suddenly opening, glass, storm grates, dogs and other hazards on the road.
- When the lane is too narrow to pass a bicyclist safely, wait until the next lane is clear and give the bicyclist all the rights of any other slow moving vehicle.
- A motorist parked at a curb must not open a door on the traffic side of a vehicle without looking for other vehicles, including bicycles or motorcycles.
- Bicycle riders may give right turn signals with their right arm held straight out or pointing right. Remember, bicycles are small and sometimes drivers do not see them.
- Don’t honk at bicyclists. Loud noise may startle the bicyclist and cause them to move into the lane of traffic.