Share the Road With Pedestrians, Bicyclists and Motorcyclists
Americans are increasingly choosing walking, running, and bicycling to stay active, run errands, and as an alternative to the daily drive to work—particularly when warmer weather arrives. Regrettably, as more people are leaving their cars and trucks behind, pedestrian and cyclist deaths in motor vehicle-related crashes have increased. However you get around—behind the wheel, on a bike, or on foot—you have a responsibility to share the road so we can all safely get to where we’re going.
In 2015, motor-vehicle-related crashes claimed the lives of 5,376 pedestrians—an increase of 9 percent over the previous year—and injured an estimated 70,000 people. Deaths among bicyclists rose by 10 percent, with motor-vehicle-related crashes taking 818 lives and injuring an estimated 45,000 bicyclists.
No one—no driver, bicyclist, or pedestrian—has sole rights to the road. It is a shared space where we all have rights and responsibilities.
Drivers and Bicyclists
For drivers, sharing the road begins with understanding that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as you.
Treat bicyclists as you would other drivers and be as aware of them in traffic as you are of vehicles. Pass bicyclists as you would vehicles—when it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane. Give them sufficient room. Do not pass too closely.
But also look for bikes where vehicles do not appear. For example, before making a right hand turn at an intersection, make sure a bicyclist isn’t approaching from the right rear of your vehicle.
Drivers and Pedestrians
Pedestrians have rights on the road, too, particularly in crosswalks. Always slow down and be prepared to yield to pedestrians when they’re in a crosswalk. Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk, as there may be people crossing whom you can’t see. And be extra cautious when backing up across sidewalks or in parking lots.
Bicyclists and Pedestrians: Rights, and Also Responsibilities
By law, drivers must share the road with cyclists and pedestrians. But bicyclists and pedestrians have responsibilities, too. Ride and walk with safety in mind.
Just like vehicle drivers, bicyclists must obey street signs, signals, and road markings. Always ride with traffic. Ride defensively, assuming others cannot see you. Ride attentively by never allowing yourself to be distracted by music, an electronic device, or anything else that takes your eyes off the road. Finally, avoid riding on sidewalks when possible. That protects pedestrians using the sidewalks. It also protects bicyclists because sidewalks can end abruptly, forcing them into traffic unexpectedly. If you must ride on the sidewalk do so with extra caution.
Pedestrians should also follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals. They’re there to protect you. Only cross streets at crosswalks when they available, as drivers and pedestrians know to look for you there. If there’s no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from vehicles as possible. If there isn’t a crosswalk, cross at a well-lit place in the road where drivers can best see you.
Don’t forget: look out for motorcyclists. Most drivers understand that motorcycles are motor vehicles and should be treated as such. But it’s especially important for motorists to understand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists such as size and visibility, and motorcycle riding practices like downshifting and weaving to know how to anticipate and respond to them. Motorcyclists must also obey their state’s helmets laws, as well as all other rules of the road.