As a motor vehicle driver, it is your legal responsibility to prevent collisions with bicyclists and pedestrians as much as possible. You have a duty to protect these vulnerable road users by obeying traffic laws and respecting their rights to the road. Follow these tips from our Denver bicycle accident lawyers for safely sharing the road with cyclists to reduce the risk of being involved in a bike accident.
Never Drive Distracted
Avoid anything that takes your attention away from the road ahead and the driving task. This includes using your cell phone, eating and drinking, chatting with passengers, changing the radio, and personal grooming. Even a minor distraction could be enough to make you miss a cyclist and cause an accident.
Check Twice for Bikes
Bicycles are much smaller than passenger vehicles, which makes them more difficult to see. Be aware of your surroundings and check twice to make sure you do not miss a bicycle when scanning the road. This is especially important when switching lanes; check your blind spots multiple times for bicycles before merging or changing lanes.
Yield the Right-of-Way
At a marked or unmarked intersection, come to a complete stop and yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist when appropriate. Check twice for cyclists at intersections before turning left or right. Know that bikers are required to obey all of the same rules and traffic laws as drivers; if a bicyclist runs a red light or breaks another traffic law and crashes into you, he or she could be held responsible for the accident.
Increase Your Following Distance
In Colorado, bicyclists have the same right to be on the road as motor vehicle drivers. As a motorist, you are required to respect this right. Be patient when driving around bikers. Do not follow them too closely, rush them, honk at them without cause or pass them too closely.
Colorado law requires you to maintain at least three feet of distance when following or passing a bicyclist. In bad weather, such as rain or fog, increase your distance for additional time to brake or react to a changing situation, such as a bicyclist coming to a sudden stop in front of you.
Do not assume a bicyclist can hear your vehicle. Many people bike with headphones on and may not hear your car. Drive safely and slowly around them. Sudden maneuvers could startle a bicyclist and cause him or her to crash or fall off the bike.
Stay Out of Bike Lanes
Never drive your vehicle in a bicycle lane. This includes entering a bike lane to temporarily park when loading or unloading. Bike lanes are reserved for cyclists only. Entering a bicycle lane could cause you to strike a biker or force a cyclist to go into the road to avoid your vehicle. If you are parked in a space that runs alongside a bicycle lane, check your mirrors for oncoming cyclists and open your doors cautiously to avoid a dooring accident.
Be Extra Cautious at Night
Many fatal Colorado bicycle accidents occur between dusk and dawn. In the dark, it can be even more difficult for a motor vehicle driver to notice a cyclist – especially if someone is biking without the required white front lamp and rear red lamp. At night, be especially cautious and vigilant when checking for bicyclists before proceeding.
If you get involved in a bicycle accident in Colorado despite your best efforts to safely share the road, contact a Denver car accident lawyer at Manning Law for legal assistance.