Tips for Bikers and Drivers to Safely Share the Road
- When the late-winter weather begins to warm up, Indiana residents are increasingly bicycling to commute to work, for exercise, or just for fun. But the slick, salt coated roads aren’t in the clear just yet.
- As more and more cyclists hit the road over the cooler months, reports of crashes between them and motor vehicles also increases. It’s important for both bicyclists and motorists to refresh themselves on some of Indiana’s laws.
- By law, bicycles on the roadway are vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles.
- Motorists must yield the right-of-way to bicyclists on designated paths and sidewalks, and drivers must leave a minimum distance of 3 feet when passing cyclists.
- Unfortunately, sharing the road with bicyclists seems to be something Hoosier’s still haven’t caught up with. When this happens safety concerns and road-sharing practices can easily be overlooked, resulting in more injuries sustained.
- We have provided an overview of Indiana’s bicycle laws and pulled together tips for sharing the road this winter.
Be on The Lookout for Winter Bike Commuters
Even though the temperatures are dropping, snow and sleet is falling, and road conditions filled with slush and salt are getting worse, there are still many people using bicycles for transportation. Riders and drivers need to freshen up on some bike riding laws to ensure everyone’s safety on the road though. Most important and easy to understand is Indiana Vehicle Code Section 9-21-11-2, “A person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all the rights and duties under this article that are applicable to a person who drives a vehicle.”
Many Indiana city ordinances also say that, “Motorists must yield the right-of-way to bicyclists on designated paths and sidewalks and that drivers must leave a minimum distance of 3 feet when passing cyclists.” This time of year, with many weather patterns creating unpredictable road conditions, “a safe distance” may be considerably more than three feet and drivers should use their best judgment so as not to follow too close.
Tips for Riders and Drivers to Better Share the Winter Road
If you are a rider, follow these suggested safety tips.
- Wear a bike helmet and protective gear. Make sure clothing and bikes are visible to others. The use of reflective gear, and a front and rear light is a preventative safety measure. All should be equipped on a bike for nighttime riding.
- It is illegal in Indiana to ride on anything other than the bike seat. It is also illegal to sit more than one person per bike unless there are more seats or special equipment attached. Bike riders cannot carry anything if it prevents them from having both hands on the handlebar.
- Use hand signals and try to make eye contact with cars before making turns.
- Ride with car and truck traffic and not against it.
- Obey street signs, signals, and road markings, just like a car.
- Assume the other person doesn’t see you so look ahead for hazards or situations to avoid that may cause you to fall like wild animals, trash, rocks, potholes, and grates or train tracks.
- No texting, listening to music or using anything that distracts you by taking your focus off the road.
If you are a car or truck driver, share the road and follow these rules for keeping bicyclists safe.
- Don’t be a distracted driver and engage in activity that could divert attention away from driving. All distractions endanger drivers, passengers, and bystanders (like bicyclists).
- Yield to bicyclists as you would motorists. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.
- In parking lots, at stop signs, when backing up, or when parking, search your surroundings for other vehicles, including bicycles.
- Drivers turning right on red should look to the right and behind to avoid hitting a bicyclist approaching from the right rear. Stop completely and look left-right-left and behind before turning right on red.
- Obey the speed limit, reduce speed for road conditions and follow the law to avoid a crash.
- Give cyclists room, preferably more than 3 feet in the winter months. Do not pass too closely.
In the end, we all must share the roads and be more cautious using them in the winter.
Many Bike Crashes Are Inevitable, Talk to a Lawyer
Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese can handle your personal injury or bicycle accident claim with years of experience and proven results. Call the law firm of Wagner Reese today 888-710-9377 for your FREE consultation or speak with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information.
Additional Resources: View the complete Indiana Code, Chapter 11. Bicycles and Motorized Bicycles for a detailed description of all applicable stated laws. This information is maintained by the Office of Code Revisions Indiana Legislative Services Agency.