More and more people, whether athletes or sedentary, who dare to take the bike frequently: for short trips in the city, to train in the field, to do some bike route road … The cities are gradually adapting to the largest number of cyclists, and both these and pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers are forced to live together.
In order for this coexistence to develop in a safe way for all, it is important that both of us know the traffic rules and show mutual respect. This will allow us to share urban spaces and roads and will ensure that we circulate correctly and safely.
Sometimes due to ignorance of the rules and sometimes due to a pure sense of insecurity, we do not ride a bicycle correctly or we do not respect cyclists, exposing ourselves to unnecessary risks. These are some of the most common mistakes we make when riding a bicycle or living with them in the city and on the road.
What we cyclists do wrong
“I’m going on the sidewalk because it’s safer than driving on the road”
In the city, cyclists can drive on the bike lane if there is one or on the road, but not on the sidewalk, as they are considered as other motor vehicles. Cyclists can ride on the bike lane (whether or not protected), cycle track (the track is intended only for bicycles and with a differentiated route from the road), sidewalk-bike (when indicated, it is a road cyclist marked on the sidewalk) and cycle paths (outdoor paths where space is shared with pedestrians).
“In the city, I stick well to the right area of the lane through which I go so as not to disturb the cars”
In the city, cyclists can drive on the right or left lanes: whichever is more suitable for the direction they are going to follow. It is generally recommended to use the right lane and limit yourself to the left to turn left, but it is not a norm. Of course, and here is the failure of many cyclists: you must drive through the center of the lane. When driving through the central area of the same, cyclists become more visible to other vehicles and avoid possible accidents that can occur if we are stuck to the right (parked car doors that open without looking before, turns to the right in those who don’t see the cyclist …).
“Road signs do not affect cyclists”
When considered as another vehicle, the bicycle must respect all traffic signs, including those of speed limitation and, of course, traffic lights. As for the speed, a cyclist must drive at the speed indicated on the route in which it passes, with a maximum of 45 km/hour (it can be overcome in very specific situations, such as prolonged descents with curves). In an area with pedestrian priority, the cyclist must adapt his speed to that carried by pedestrians.
“In the roundabouts, if we go in a group, we must give way to cars”
If we drive in a group and the first cyclist has already entered the roundabout or roundabout, cyclists have priority over other vehicles: a group of cyclists is considered as a single unit. Inside the roundabout, we can drive through the center of the lane that we are using and we must signal correctly and in advance our intention to leave it.
Cyclists in a roundabout, ALWAYS HAVE PRIORITY, even on the vehicles that circulate inside it.
“I can use headphones because I am not driving”
It is not allowed to use headphones or use the mobile phone when riding a bicycle, just as if we drive a vehicle. The case of headphones is especially dangerous, as they may not let us hear an approaching car or any other acoustic signal, putting ourselves in danger.
“I’ve had some beers, but nothing happens because I ride a bike”
As in the case of motorized vehicles, it is not allowed to ride a bicycle with a blood alcohol rate greater than 0.5 grams per liter, or alcohol in exhaled air greater than 0.25 milligrams per liter, and cyclists are required to perform the toxicity detection tests deemed necessary by the authority.
It is also not allowed to ride a bicycle under the effect of psychotropic, stimulants or narcotics, including medications that alter the physical or mental state to circulate safely.
“I can cross the crosswalk mounted on the bike”
In the event that the crosswalk is not marked as a specific bike path (it is marked on the ground, with a signal and even some traffic lights have their own exclusive light for cyclists) when crossing the zebra crossing it is necessary to descend from the bike and cross on foot, like a pedestrian.
“Lights, helmet, reflectors … I don’t need them”
One of the greatest dangers when driving a bicycle is that we are not able to make ourselves visible to other vehicles that drive on the roads. For our own safety and to make us more visible, all bicycles must carry the homologated reflective elements (red rear catadioptric that is not rectangular in shape). In addition, if we circulate at night it is necessary to wear a white front light and a red rear light, and also a reflective garment that in interurban sections makes us visible from 150 meters. The bell is a mandatory element on bicycles according to the general regulations of vehicles.
And what about the helmet? In children under 16 years of age, it is mandatory in all roads, while in those over 16 years it is only mandatory in interurban roads. Its use, however, is recommended in any situation as protection.
“If we go in a group you have to circulate in a row of one”
Cyclists can circulate in a group in a row of one or in parallel in a row of two except in conditions of low visibility or heavy traffic. This applies to roads and urban roads (there is no rule that says that in the city you have to drive one by one). Circular in parallel, moreover, is a way to make us more visible to other vehicles and is legal.
What we do wrong drivers
“Nothing happens to overtake a cyclist”
It is very important that when traveling by city or road, and especially when making an overtaking, we respect the separation of at least one and a half meters with cyclists on the road. If we pass too close to a cyclist and also do not moderate the speed, what is known as the “sink effect” occurs, causing the cyclist to lose control of the bike and fall.
“I advance close because there is a continuous line and I can not pass it”
Perhaps the most widespread mistake among drivers is to think that they cannot overtake a cyclist because there is a continuous line. Whenever we can pass safely, after having verified that no vehicle is coming in the opposite direction, we can pass the continuous line and partially or totally invade the opposite lane to respect the meter and a half distance when we overtake.
In addition, we must signal the overtaking with the turn signals (not with the horn!) Properly, both to get out of our lane and to return to it, also leaving a safe distance with the cyclist on the turn.
“There is a cyclist in my lane and he goes very slowly: I blow the horn and tell him to let me pass”
If a cyclist is driving on the same lane as us and overtaking in safe conditions is not possible, the vehicle speed must be adjusted to that of the cyclist and wait until it can be done. To blow the horn and place ourselves very close behind to let us pass is very dangerous since the cyclist can get scared and lose control of the bicycle, with dire consequences.
Knowing the traffic rules for all types of vehicles is important when living both in the city and on the roads. The mutual respect of cyclists and drivers, in addition to compliance with traffic regulations, helps us avoid accidents and improve living together on our streets.