[Nothing on this blog should be confused for legal advice. I am not a lawyer, public official, or officer of the law. You, the reader, are liable for your own behavior and knowledge.]

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Cutoff

When is it safe for me to turn into a lane where a cyclist is riding?

Many motorists think unconsciously along these lines: cyclist = slow = I can proceed. Motorists regularly underestimate how fast most cyclists travel. Competitive cyclists can reach speeds above 40 miles per hour on a flat stretch of road. Many cyclists reach speeds above 50 miles per hour when descending hills. Even beginner-level riders, those out for casual rides, and people on recovery rides will travel at average speeds above 10 miles per hour. It is always best to pause, gauge the approaching cyclist's speed, and proceed only when it is safe. It is often safer for the motorist to let the cyclist travel through the intersection, turn into the lane behind him/her, and then pass the cyclist when it is safe to do so than to cut the cyclist off.

Our cousins of the road, motorcyclists, often encounter similar problems. We are often invisible to motorists who think that roads belong to cars. Unlike that other kind of "biker," we don't have the option of loud pipes to announce our presence.

A related issue is that motorists should never turn onto a road parallel to a cyclist. Again, it is safer to wait for the rider to pass, turn, and then pass her/him when it is safe.

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