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Bikes and Cars: How We Can Live in Harmony

Using your bike as a means of transportation can help you save money, keep fit, and reduce your impact on the environment. Being aware of the rules for sharing the road with cars and pedestrians while cycling is your first step to moving in harmony.

When You’re On Your Bike:

  • Remember that cyclists are granted all of the rights, and are subject to all of the responsibilities, that apply to motorists.
  • Wear a helmet when riding your bike; it could save your life.*
  • Cyclists are legally required to ride with the flow of traffic, never against.
  • Use bike lanes when available and safe.
  • Signal all turns and lane changes 50 feet in advance.
  • When riding in a vehicle lane, stay as far to the right as is reasonable and safe, although:
    • Keep an arm’s length distance from the side of the road to avoid debris.
    • Ride far enough to the left (either in a bike lane, or the edge of road) so that you won’t run into a car door that’s opened unexpectedly.
  • It is often necessary to “take the lane” (ride in the middle of the lane) when:
    • A lane is not wide enough for a car and bike to both occupy side-by-side.
    • Stopping at, and traveling through, an intersection – drivers are more likely to see you, and anticipate giving you space at the other side of the intersection.
    • When turning left, you may use the farthest right vehicle turn lane or far left vehicle lane, being careful to yield to on-coming motor vehicles when crossing lanes.
  • It is not recommended for adults to ride bikes on the sidewalk. If riding on the sidewalk, always yield to pedestrians.
  • By law, cyclists must ride at night with a front white light and a rear red light or red reflector. Wearing reflective or light colored clothing is also highly recommended.
  • Alert walkers to your presence when passing (always on the left) on a shared path.
  • Always yield to pedestrians while riding on streets.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be much safer on the road. But should a problem occur, it’s important that you’re covered. If you happen to have a run-in with a car (we hope you don’t!) call your auto insurance agent and check your policy – depending on your auto insurance plan, you might still be covered!

*While there is no federal law in the U.S. requiring bicycle helmets, most states and localities began adopting laws in 1987. Most are limited to children under 18, but there are 49 all-ages laws. At present, 22 states including the District of Columbia have state-wide laws, and more than 201 municipalities have local ordinances.

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