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In the United States, there are between 40,000 and 50,000 accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 857 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2018.

Given the likelihood of serious injury or death from motor vehicle accidents involving cyclists, and the fact that more people than ever are using bicycles for commuting, exercise, and recreation, it’s important for both drivers of motor vehicles and cyclists to understand how they can best share the roads to keep everyone safe.

For Drivers

There are a lot of ways that drivers can do their part to keep the roads safe for cyclists.

Be Aware

Being vigilant while driving is the biggest key to avoiding accidents with cyclists. Most recreational cyclists will only achieve speeds around 12 miles per hour, so when driving a vehicle, you can come up on a cyclist very rapidly. Staying aware of your surroundings and not allowing yourself to be distracted by your phone or passengers will ensure you see any nearby cyclists as early as possible.

Being alert will also help you maneuver quickly, should the cyclist make an expected move, like swerving out of their lane to avoid an obstruction, falling down, or losing control. Just like drivers of cars, cyclists sometimes have to make unexpected choices due to road conditions. Being aware of cyclists who are sharing the road will allow you to react quickly, as well.

Use Caution

When driving with cyclists nearby, use extra caution at all times. A cyclist can easily be hidden in a blind spot, which could result in a collision if you aren’t careful. If you’re passing a cyclist, slow down and give them ample space. If you were to accidentally swipe a cyclist as you pass, the speed you’re going can significantly impact the injuries the cyclist receives. At intersections, yield to cyclists whenever possible.

Stay Out of Bike Lanes

Bike lanes that allow cyclists to more safely share the road with motor vehicles are becoming more common in cities all across the United States. However, driving in a bike lane, or parking your car in a bike lane creates serious safety hazards, because cyclists will then have to leave the lane in order to pass by.

For Cyclists

Although drivers play an important part in keeping roads safe for cyclists, it’s important for all cyclists to take responsibility for their own safety while on the roads. Here are some ways for cyclists to stay safe on the roads.

Gear Up

Having the proper gear for cycling on the road is essential. While a properly fitted helmet is the most important piece of equipment every cyclist needs, all cyclists should also have bright, reflective clothing to help them be seen by vehicles at all times of day or night.

In addition, bikes should be outfitted with lights and reflectors to give them the best chance of being seen by drivers. Cyclists should also be sure they are riding a bike that is sized properly for them and isn’t too large or too small, because incorrectly sized bikes can be harder to control on the road.

Follow the Rules

Cyclists are required to follow the rules of the road, just like drivers. This includes signaling for turns, obeying all traffic signals and signs, using bike lanes when available, and yielding at pedestrian crossings. Obeying the rules of the road is the best way to avoid any type of accident.

Proper Maintenance

Just as with cars, bicycles need regular maintenance to remain in good working order. Keeping a bicycle in good shape means cyclists will be less likely to experience mechanical problems that could result in an accident while out on the road.

Prepare Properly

Before hitting the road, all cyclists should spend some time to prepare. Anything being carried on the bike should be in a backpack or attached securely to the bike. Shoe laces, baggy pants, or any other loosely fitting clothing should be secured so it won’t catch in the chain or wheel of the bike while riding.

All cyclists should also plan their route before setting out to ensure they don’t end up in an area that’s dangerous for riding or where bicycles are prohibited. A little planning can go a long way toward keeping cyclists safe on the roads.

Be Aware

More people are sharing the roads with cars, as you can learn more about here at It’s critical for motor vehicle drivers to stay aware of cyclists on the road and it’s just as important for cyclists to be aware of everything that’s happening around them while cycling.

Everything from cars to pedestrians to debris in the road has the potential to cause an accident, and accidents between motor vehicles and cyclists are almost universally worse for the cyclist. That means cyclists must be extra vigilant to any potential problem or threat on the road in order to keep themselves safe.

If everyone takes responsibility to remain vigilant while on the roads, cyclists and motor vehicles can share the roads in such a way where everyone remains safe on their journey.