How to be a bike friendly driver

Whether you ride, drive or walk, we all have a role to play when it comes to road safety. Here are 10 tips to help you navigate bike riders on the road when you get behind the wheel of the vehicle and ensure everyone gets from A to B safely.

How to be a bike friendly driver

Watch the guides

When you’re driving a vehicle, it’s very likely you’ll encounter a bike rider on the road and there are some things you can do to reduce the risks of rider on the road. In this two part series, we’ll guide you through ten different scenarios you might encounter a bike on the road and detail how you should act to ensure the safety of all road users.

Part one

1. Opening a car door

This is one of the most common conflicts between a car and bike rider and can be very dangerous. When you’re ready to exit your vehicle, check your side mirror for any bike riders coming your way. Then, do a head check to make sure there’s no bikes in your blind spot. When the bikes have passed, exit the vehicle. A handy technique you can use to remember to look for bikes is the Dutch reach. This is where you open the door with your opposite hand and forces you to turn and look.

Sydney King Street intersection
2. Turning left

When turning left, whether there is a bike lane or not, it is important to check for bike riders coming down the inside of your car. When approaching an intersection, check your mirror for any bikes. As you slow down, do a quick head turn to check you blind spot. If there’s one there, wait patiently for them to pass with your eyes peeled for more riders behind before you turn across their path.

Be mindful, of riders coming down the inside of parked cars on separated bike lanes.

3. Turning right at an intersection

It can be tricky to spot bike riders when turning right at an intersection. As the cars come through, bike riders may be on the other side of the cars. It is very important wait for a safe gap in cars or for the traffic lights to change to yellow so traffic stops coming the opposite way. Do not speed through a small gap in cars in case there is a bike you haven’t spotted.

4. Turning right into a side-street or driveway

As mentioned, it can be very difficult to spot bikes behind cars when turning right. At peak hour, congestion can cause cars to bank up on roads but bike lanes will always be free flowing. If you are turning across into a side street or driveway, remember that bikes will likely still be moving. Turn right across the gap in cars, then slow before the bike lane to check there a no bike riders coming through.

5. Driving where there are lots of parked cars

In a perfect world, all drivers will follow tip #1 and be careful when opening their car doors. Unfortunately, this does not always happen so bike riders often ride with a one-meter buffer between themselves and parked cars. When driving around bikes on roads with lots of parked cars, be alert in case a bike rider needs to swerve to miss a stray car door. Be particularly mindful when passing.

Part 2

6. Passing on a rural road

It’s especially important to be mindful of bikes when you are driving on rural roads. The roads are often narrower and you are driving at higher speeds.Take your time and pass when you can allow at least 1.5 meters of separation.It is also important to keep an eye out when you are driving over a crest or around a bend. You’re vision is obstructed so drive at a speed you can safely stop if bike rider pops up.

7. Passing a rider going downhill

You’ll often encounter a bike rider while driving downhill. In this case, it is likely that the safest option is to not pass the bike rider at all. As you can see, the rider can pick up enough speed to ride as fast as the speed limit. If the rider is going slow enough to pass, be aware of what’s ahead so that you can pass safely.

8. Passing a rider going uphill

Riding uphill is a challenge. Passing a bike going uphill can be too. The rider is going much slower uphill which may require some patience on behalf of the driver but an opportunity to overtake will arise soon enough. Make sure you can see what’s coming over the crest of the hill ahead. Then, when no cars are coming, move out and around the bike rider with plenty of space. Ensure you have enough time to merge back in front of the bike rider without cutting them off.

9. Passing a rider at a narrow point

Occasionally, you’ll come across a road that comes to a narrow point. In this situation, your best option is to be patient and wait until you are through the narrow point. The road will most likely open and up again you will be able to pass safely.

10. Driving through roundabouts

Roundabouts can be tricky to manoeuvre for both vehicle drivers and bike riders. As a driver, it is important to be aware of bikes and not just cars when approaching a roundabout. Make sure you check your blind spot for bikes entering a roundabout from your right. If you are behind a bike rider, allow them space to merge into the lane. It is very dangerous to overtake a bike rider in a roundabout unless it has two lanes to allow space.

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