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Bicycle accidents are becoming all too common in our community.  Illinois Prairie Electric, Inc. cares about this issue not only because we ride bicycles, but because our employees encounter them on roads, in parking lots, and near job sites while driving.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind out on the roads this Spring:

Be aware of driveways that cross sidewalks. This is a common place for bicycles and cars to not see one another.

Don’t follow bicycles too closely. Bicycles can stop more quickly than cars, and damage to the smaller vehicle is often catastrophic.

Be cautious in residential neighborhoods. Bicyclists like to use quiet streets, so if you don’t stop completely before a stop sign, you risk hitting a silent vehicle in the intersection.  Look for cyclists and traffic before opening your door. When in motion, be aware of bicycles moving to the left to avoid the door zone directly adjacent to parked vehicles.

Finally, the Illinois Rules of the Road handbook states that motor vehicles must give bicycles at least 3 feet of space when passing.  Even with this guideline, riders are still being clipped by passing side mirrors.  Go one step further and give bicycles respect and distance—the same courtesies you would give to slow-moving farm equipment.  When passing, give them the full lane.  If it is not possible to pass safely, slow down and wait until it is safe.  This applies to urban and rural driving.

As more people become concerned about sustainable transportation and healthy living, there will be more bicycles on our community’s roads, sidewalks, and trails. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration writes that bicycles are “a legitimate form of transportation and bicyclists are legal drivers of vehicles” that have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles.