One of the first things my husband taught me when we started dating was how to drive when encountering a cyclist on the road. When I took up running I realized how important that lesson can be. Without getting into the hot topic debate of who has the right of way when, here a few general rules for drivers:
- Never honk at a runner or cyclist!! When you aren't in a car even a friendly tap of a horn can be extremely loud. You don't want to startle them and have them swerve into your lane or crash.
- Cyclists and runners will generally try to stay out of your lane, but if they do come into your lane, realize that they may not have a choice and be patient. Sometimes from the drivers seat in your car you can't see that there is broken glass on the shoulder or that what looks like smooth grass on the side of the road could be filled with potholes.
- Sometimes they wear really bright funny looking clothes, don't laugh. You saw them didn't you? That's the point.
- Yelling out your window, whether it's good or bad, isn't understandable. Unless it's just a general "Woot woot!" it all sounds like gibberish.
- Cyclists are often traveling faster than you think, many average about 25 MPH when he rides. Be aware of that and don't turn right in front of them.
These rules only work if the cyclists and runners are doing their part too:
- Whenever at all possible, runners should run against traffic and cyclists should ride with traffic. This still applies whether you're on the sidewalk or not.
- Always make eye contact with the vehicles who's paths you may be crossing. Communicate your direction and make sure they see you!
- If a driver does something nice for you, acknowledge it and they'll be more likely to do it in the future.
Cyclists and runners generally try to stay out of the way of cars. I can't think of any accidents where the runner or cyclist isn't the big loser. Those bikes are expensive too (Like a good low end bike could be around $2,000 expensive)! Common courtesy and a few seconds of patience all around means safety for everyone!
*Photo by Mark Oram, used with permission.
Amy Nelson is a running mom with a cycling husband and two boys.