Tips for People Who Drive

To get from COMPETE streets to COMPLETE streets, half of the equation is attitude!

Let’s get a couple things out of the way first:

You are also a pedestrian. Yes you are one of “them” at some point, we all are. And many of the bicyclists you see may also own a car. The whole US vs. THEM is an illusion that is brought about based on what we are doing at that very moment. Every driver wants nothing but green lights, a clear lane and the ability to go as fast as they want. But you also know life is full of compromises because at some point, you are not going to be the driver, you are going to be thing thing in the driver’s way. So let’s dispense with the US vs. THEM mentality for a moment and state the obvious:

  1. Everyone, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike, do stupid stuff on the road and stupid stuff is what gets people killed
  2. Motorists do not get killed by people who are walking or bicycling

Fair or unfair it does not matter – you are the person with the license, registration and insurance. Seem unfair and wonder why is the onus on you? Because you are the one driving a two ton machine that is responsible for the death of about 38,000 people on our nation’s roads each year. And about 6,000 of those are pedestrians or bicyclists struck by a motor vehicle. Even if a pedestrian or bicyclist is a fault in a crash, do you really want to be the one who ends their life? Didn’t think so, below are a few tips that may help avoid that happening.

Don’t believe us? See what the Secretary of State has to say in “What Every Driver Must Know.” Check out pages 64 – 66. Matter of fact, let’s face facts, it has been a long time since you were in drivers ed – probably worth taking a look at the whole thing. You don’t remember as much as you think you do.

You Turn, You Yield

To other vehicles, to bikes, to pedestrians

  • Yield When Turning Left

    You already yield to oncoming motor vehicles, just do the same for bicyclists in the road and people walking and on bike in the crosswalk. And here is a pro-tip, make sure the path is clear before starting to make that turn otherwise either you get broadsided or the people in the crosswalk do.

  • Yield When Turning Right

    Seeing a pattern here? Now here is the tricky part – if you are turning out of a side street, you are probably looking to your left for gap in traffic. What you may not be looking for is a bicyclist or pedestrian trying to cross in front of you from the right.  I seem to remember something from driver’s ed about look left, look right, look left again.  Solid advice.

  • Its Called a Bike Lane for a Reason

    Because it’s for bicyclists. You can’t drive in it, you can’t pass cars in it. You can cross it to make turns but you have to yield to any bicyclists in the bike lane. And don’t even think of parking there, even for “just a minute” while you run in to pick up your morning espresso.

  • Watch the Right Hook!

    You just passed a someone on a bike and are now about to turn right. Guess what? Why you were slowing to make a turn, the bicyclist caught up with you! You have to yield to the bicyclist going straight. And don’t forget about bicyclists on the sidewalk either. Bonus safety statistic – about half of bicyclists where were hit by motor vehicles were simply going straight before they were hit!

  • Expect Bikes - Everywhere

    Bicyclists are not restricted to bike lanes and side paths. In general, they have the same rights and restrictions as you do. So expect them to move across lanes to make a left turn or get in the through only lane to go straight. They may even have leave the bike lane or paved shoulder to get around some debris that could cause them to crash.

You Go Straight, You Yield

No really, because crosswalks are everywhere

  • Unmarked Crosswalks Are a Real Thing

    And these unmarked crosswalks are everywhere in urban and suburban areas! If there is an intersecting street, just assume that there is an unmarked crosswalk. It does not have to have paint to be a crosswalk, it just has to have sidewalks lined up on opposite sides of the road.

  • You Yield to Pedestrians in the Road

    They just may be in an unmarked crosswalk and you yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk! Besides, it does not really matter if they are in a crosswalk or not, you yield, period.

  • It Doesn’t Take Much to be "In the Crosswalk"

    One foot in the gutter and a pedestrian is technically in the crosswalk. Chances are that you can’t tell for sure if they have a foot or a cane is in the crosswalk from a safe stopping distance back from the crosswalk. Best to assume they are about to step into the road.

  • Don’t Pass a Stopped Car

    If you see a car stopped in the right or left lane without a turn signal on, the odds are they are stopped to let a pedestrian cross the road. The pedestrian may be out of sight behind the stopped car. If you buzz by the stopped car (which is against the law) your next move may be mowing down a pedestrian, or perhaps even an entire family, in a crosswalk. You’re not going to let that happen are you?

  • You Pass You Yield

    Passing a bicyclist too close will freak them out and just may knock them off their bike. Give bicyclists 3 to 5 feet when you pass. The faster you are going the more space you should give. But make sure to watch out for oncoming motorists and bicyclists!

  • You Open Your Door, You Yield

    Just parallel park and about to get out of your car? Check the mirrors! You could be about to open your door right in front of a person biking down the road.