Earlier this month, we wrong a blog on how Washington, D.C. cyclists have triggered red-light cameras more than 1,557 times since January 2015, putting themselves at risk for bicycle accidents. Since then, the cycling community has stepped forward and insisted to media outlets that though some cyclists have broken the law, not all are bad cyclists. In fact, according to a representative from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), most cyclists feel they aren’t given the same protection around the city as car drivers are and want to make the roads safer.
To demonstrate how challenging cycling can be in D.C., the WABA placed a camera on a cyclist’s helmet and filmed a typical bike ride. The video showed disappearing bike lanes that would reappear after several blocks, reckless drivers, drivers who did not acknowledge bike lanes and inconsistent traffic signals.
Safe Practices for When You’re Driving Around Cyclists
According to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), there have been more than 334 bicycle accidents in D.C. within the last five years. According to the WABA, this could be in part because of a hostile mindset people adopt on the road that makes them think “it’s cars versus bikes” or vice versa. However, the WABA says drivers should work to communicate with cyclists on the road by using signals as frequently as possible. Additionally, drivers should do the following to keep cyclists safe:
- Drivers should familiarize themselves with D.C.’s bicycle laws
- Vehicles turning right must make sure there are no bicyclists in their path before making the turn
- Drivers must yield to both pedestrians and cyclists crossing in a crosswalk
- Legally, drivers are not allowed to park in bike lanes, as it puts cyclists at risk for “getting doored”
- Be cautious when executing a left turn. Most drivers do not realize cyclists can approach at 15 to 20 miles per hour, so if in doubt, yield to the cyclist
- Drivers should give each bicyclist at least three feet of space
- While drivers should not be on their phone regardless, this is especially true when sharing the road with cyclists
D.C. Bicycle Accident Lawyers Can Help
D.C. drivers must bear in mind a cyclist on the road means one less car on the road. That said, bicyclists do not have the protection of a two-ton car around them and D.C. drivers must learn to be more considerate of their safety.