With the beginning of nicer weather, many of us will be heading outside to recreate on bicycles. So now seems like a good time to remind all of us how to safely and courteously Share the Road. The Montana Department of Justice Driver Manual and state law provide excellent guidance for both drivers and cyclists, so let’s review some basic etiquette.
First, for cyclists:
• Under Montana law, bicycles are considered vehicles and are governed by the same traffic laws that reasonably apply to their operation – Same Roads, Same Rules, Same Rights.
• Ride with the flow of traffic; not against it.
• Ride as far to the right as judged safe by you to avoid road hazards, parked cars, etc.
• Ride in single file (except when riding on bike paths or a wide paved shoulder).
• Use hand signals to indicate your intention to turn.
• Move to the left side of the traffic lane or the left turn lane when making left turns.
• Front and rear lights are required at night but using them at all times improves visibility.
• Wear a helmet for your own safety!
• Stay alert and make adjustments when passing or sharing the roadway with a bicycle.
• When approaching a cyclist from behind, treat them as you would any other slow-moving vehicle; slow down to the speed of the cyclist and wait for a safe time to pass. The few seconds this takes can avoid a serious crash or death.
• Give the cyclist a recommended 5 foot distance between them and your vehicle when passing.
• Don’t honk or yell at a cyclist to get their attention as this may cause them to lose control.
• Pay extra attention as you enter streets, cross bikeways or sidewalks and when making turns.
• Use extra caution when encountering youth on bikes; they have much less experience with vehicle traffic.
• When opening the door of a parked car, check for cyclists approaching from behind to avoid them being “doored.”
For additional information, please visit BikeWalkMontana.org; 406-449-2787.
Remember all of us on the roadways are someone’s family, friend or loved one. Let’s share the road responsibly and keep each other safe!
Kip Smith of Kalispell is a Bike Walk Montana board member.
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