Over the last 20 years, bicycling has become an increasingly popular mode of transportation. Drive down the road, and you will easily see more people riding bikes for fun, for getting from Point A to Point B, and even for commuting to work.

According to a 2021 report published by Bike Adviser, commuting via bicycle is now the third most popular transportation mode in the U.S. In fact, between 2000 and 2019, the number of people commuting via bicycle has increased 61% across the country.

Communities throughout Michigan have been building bike lanes on roads in response to this increased interest in bicycle commutes. At the same time, bicycle accidents have been on the rise recently. In 2020, Michigan experienced an 81% increase in the number of people who were killed in a bicycle accident.

The fact of the matter is that while riding a bicycle can be freeing and provide plenty of benefits to both the rider and the environment, it can be dangerous, too. Here are some ways that drivers can help keep Michigan bicyclists safe on the road.

Don’t Drive in Bike Lanes

Bike lanes are popping up all over the Michigan. They are separate lanes that are drawn to the side of the roadway that are designated only for bicyclists to ride in.

There are times when a driver won’t have a choice but to ride in a bicycle lane, such as when they are pulling into a driveway or parallel parking on the street. However, drivers should remain out of bicycle lanes whenever possible.

Bike lanes are not shoulders of the road that motorists should drive in, even to go around cars stopped waiting to make a left-hand turn, for example.

Keep in mind that even if there isn’t a designated bike lane, bicyclists have a right to the road as well. The National Highway Safety Administration, in fact, says that all bike riders older than 10 should ride in the road and not the sidewalk. 

Be Aware of Bicyclists

Motorists should always be conscious of the fact that bicyclists may be on the road. If you’re driving on an interstate highway, this obviously isn’t a concern. When driving on community roads, though, know that bicyclists could be on the road.

In this regard, treat bicyclists as another vehicle. You need to share the road with those who are riding bicycles. Just as you would pay attention to where another car on the road is, you should do the same with bicyclists. This will help prevent you from being surprised that a bicyclist was riding to your side.

Know the Hand Signals

Because bicycles don’t have turn signals on them, people who ride bicycles use their hands to signal different turns they’re about to make. Just like paying attention to another driver’s signals is important, so, too, is paying attention to bicycle hand signals.

It’s important that you understand what the basic bicycle hand signals are so that you know what bike riders are about to do. For example, if a rider puts out their left arm straight, it is indicating that they will be making a left-hand turn. To indicate a right-hand turn, they will hold their left arm at a 90-degree angle.

If a rider is about to stop or slow down, they’ll hold their left arm down at a 90-degree angle.

Stay Focused

You should always stay focused when you’re driving a vehicle, whether there are bicyclists on the road or not. Avoiding being distracted is one of the keys to reducing the chances that you’ll be in an accident that can result in serious injury or even death.

Remember to never browse the internet or text while you’re driving. Only use hands-free options if you need to make or receive a phone call. This goes for when you’re stopped at a red light, too. Keep the phone out of your hands when you’re in the driver’s seat so you always know who’s around you at all times.

In addition, you shouldn’t wear headphones while you’re driving. This can reduce your ability to hear what’s going on around you, which could lead to more accidents. 

Don’t Assume Everyone’s an Expert

Just because someone is riding a bicycle on the road doesn’t mean they are an expert rider. Sometimes, people riding bicycles can accidentally swerve or brake very suddenly. They may need to avoid an obstacle or debris that’s on the road, or they may just lose their balance.

This is why it’s ultra-important to be aware of all bicyclists on the road and to stay focused while you’re driving. It’s never a good idea to assume someone on a bicycle will be riding perfectly every time.

When you’re driving around children on bicycles, it’s especially important that you drive cautiously. Younger riders are usually the most inexperienced and the most prone to erratic riding.

We Protect You in Case of an Accident

These are just a few of the general tips and advice you should follow to help keep Michigan bicyclists safe while you’re driving on the roadways. Remember that bike riders have an equal right to be on the road as other vehicles. So, pay attention to where they are, stay focused on driving, avoid being distracted by electronics and never assume that every bike rider is an expert.

If you should ever be involved in an accident with a bicyclist, it’s important that you have a reputable auto insurance company on your side. At Signature Insurance, we have been providing auto insurance coverage to drivers in Michigan for years.

Our team of experts is here to help you understand your rights as a driver and provide you with the different options for auto insurance coverage. If you ever have any questions about what is covered, or the benefits of your plan, we’re here to help.

Contact us today to find out more and to get a free auto insurance quote. 

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