Drivers and cyclists are equally responsible for safety on the road
By Anna Edwards Jul 7, 2015
Last year was a particularly deadly year for cyclists in Wyoming. Four cyclists (including two in Natrona County) were killed when they were struck by vehicles. Already this summer, Casper has seen two highly publicized hit-and-run bicycle involved accidents.
There seems to be some confusion on the part of cyclists and drivers as to their roles and responsibilities on the road.
First, let’s start with the law. Cyclists are considered vehicles by Wyoming law. This means cyclists have the same right to use roadways as drivers. As such, cyclists are expected to ride with the flow of traffic and follow all traffic laws. Drivers, in turn, are expected to share the road with bicycles and treat them like any other vehicle. Starting July 1, 2015, drivers are required to give cyclists at least three feet when passing.
Below is a list of responsibilities (shared and unique) for both cyclists and drivers.
- Wear a helmet. This is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself while riding. Wherever you are.
- Stay visible. If drivers can see you, they are less likely to hit you. Use light and reflective clothing when riding at night or in low visibility conditions.
- Signal. Look again. Use hand signals to let drivers and other cyclists know what you’re doing. Make eye contact. Don’t assume drivers will stop.
- Go with the flow. Bike in the direction of traffic.
- Act like a car. Don’t weave in and out of traffic. The more predictably you ride, the safer you are.
- Don’t ride distracted. Pay attention. Listening to music or talking on your phone while riding is a dangerous distraction. Being fully aware of your surroundings can save your life.
- Follow all traffic laws and lights. Just as you would while driving.
- Expect cyclists on the road. In Wyoming, cyclists are deemed, by law, to be vehicles and are entitled to the same rights as drivers. Watch for cyclists and treat them as any other slow-moving vehicle.
- Give cyclists three feet of clearance when passing. Starting July 1, 2015, this is a requirement of all Wyoming drivers.
- Slow down. Speeding increases the severity of bike/car collisions. Obey posted speed limits and slow down when passing a cyclist.
- Understand cyclist vulnerability. The average car weighs two tons while a bike weighs around 20 pounds. In a collision, the cyclist is going to lose.
- Don’t turn in front of an oncoming bike. Cyclists can easily hit 15 to 20 miles an hour when riding on the road. This is faster than most drivers expect. Turning cars must yield to bikes in the same way they would any vehicle.
- Signal. Look again. Pay special attention at intersections which can be the site for some of the most serious car-bike collisions. Look for cyclists when turning right. Use your signal to let cyclists and other vehicles know what you are doing.
- Look before you exit your car. Cyclists have been seriously injured or killed when a door unexpectedly opens in a row of parked cars. Look in your mirrors and behind you before opening your door.
The bottom line for both cyclists and drivers is respect. Respect each other, respect the laws, and stay safe this summer.
Anna Edwards is the grant coordinator for the Safe Communities program at Wyoming Medical Center. She has more than 10 years of experience in nonprofit program development and management. She is the mother of a very active toddler. When she’s not running after her daughter, Anna spends her time reading, gardening and managing her growing obsession with yarn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (307) 577-7904.