Last week, the Freakonomics blog cited two studies showing that, at least in their specific locales, the overwhelming majority of bicycle and motorcycle crashes on the road are caused by motorists. As a former motorcyclist who was involved in a crash caused by a car, I can personally relate to these studies as can most of the writers who commented on the Freakonomics blog. Of course, there are plenty of bicyclists and motorcyclists that take unnecessary risks and do stupid things on the road, but I am guessing that most riders try very carefully to protect their precious cargo.
As a driver of a car, you can take several steps to try to avoid causing one of these disastrous events:
- most obviously, focus on driving, put away your cell phone, your iPod, your eyeliner or your electric shaver (yes, I have seen both of these practices in action) and realize that your car can become a weapon – one that is much more dangerous to a vulnerable bicyclist or motorcyclist
- look before you leap – always check carefully when switching lanes and be aware of blind spots
- don’t open a car door without making sure that no one is approaching
- give riders plenty of room when following or passing
- be especially careful in intersections looking both ways before crossing or turning even when you have the right of way
- obey all rules of the road and be generous and yield the right of way to riders
It is especially important to be aware of riders and road rules when driving outside of your home country. Many countries have different rider/driver ratios — the more riders, the more careful you need to be. Accidents are also more likely when you are trying to figure out strange road signs or how things work on the “wrong” side of the road.
This is the first post in a new series (three points to the readers who already knew this from the title of the post). If you have ideas on ‘traveling responsibly’, please let us know.