Sharing the Road With Bicycles in Iowa: How to drive safely near bicycles.

Iowa drivers could encounter a person on a bike anytime. The best advice for any driver is to slow down when you approach a person on a bike.

 

You can pass a person on a bike, but you need to make sure the left lane is clear of oncoming traffic. Move a safe and reasonable distance to the left of the person on a bike by changing lanes. Allow room in case the person riding moves to avoid obstacles. Don’t return to the right until safely past the bicyclist. Don’t try to squeeze in when you don’t have enough time or room. Designated ‘No Passing” Zones mean that you cannot pass.

Treat passing the bike rider as you would treat passing a car.

 

If you are driving at an intersection with bikes, slow your speed. If you need to pass the bicyclist, wait to pass after an intersection. A common crash scenario is when a car passes and immediately turns right.  If following a bicycle, but need to turn soon, follow safely and avoid passing. Use your turn signal when turning right. Look and scan your blind spots before you turn the wheel.

 

Frequent crashes also occur when motorists are turning left. Keep in mind, bicyclists may be coming from opposite direction on a trail. Slow or stop before turning left, look for people in the oncoming lane, and check your mirrors and scan over your shoulder. Always signal when turning.

 

Expect bike traffic on sidewalks and trails near roads. It is easy to overlook people on bicycles. Bicycles may approach from either direction and may be traveling faster than you think.. Children bicycling on sidewalks are not able to judge moving traffic.

 

Bicyclists on the roadways may pass cars that are stopped or parked. Passengers or drivers who open doors into moving traffic can cause crashes. People riding bicycles will try to avoid the door zone when passing and will ride to the left cars several feet outside parked cars. Be sure to check your mirror before opening the door to your vehicle. Close your door after loading and unloading.

 

If you are unable to pass a bicyclist, don’t honk or tailgate. You can startle the bicyclist and potentially cause a life threatening accident. People on bikes riding on roads have the legal right. The bicyclist may be riding to the left to avoid car doors and to be visible to drivers. The bicyclist may be avoiding obstacles like pot-holes and debris. It’s better to slow down, give the bike rider the space.

 

Avoid ANYTHING which may impair your ability to drive safely. Do not send text messages while driving. Do not consume drugs or alcohol and drive impaired. Do not allow yourself to get distracted while driving.

 

Drivers should operate vehicles with regard for the safety of others.  This means drivers should slow their speed and change lanes to pass if it safe to pass. Crashes at intersections can be avoided by slowing and scanning in all directions.  Most of all, do not drive distracted or impaired.

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