Bicycle intersection safety depends upon whether roads or pavements are properly marked. Creating bicycle-friendly roads is proven to dramatically reduce the potential for accidents by creating awareness and visibility of bicyclists on our roads.
Bicycle lanes that approach intersections benefit from a continuous path through the intersection into another bicycle lane on the opposite road. The presence of a right-turn lane would require that the bicycle lane is created on the left of the right-turn lane. Not all roads are wide enough to permit a right-turn-only lane and a bicycle lane, so in this circumstance, shared-lane marking can indicate the potential for lane-sharing with bicycles.
There are various other types of bicycle lane markings in operation throughout the United States, including an adaptation of an illuminated protected intersection. It is important for both vehicle operators and bicyclists to understand intersection markings and who has the right-of-way, to help reduce the number of accidents.
Protected Bicycle Lanes
Another form of intersection safety involves the use of protected bicycle lanes, which effectively separates bicycles from vehicles, such as cars. The added separation at intersections is designed to create a buffer between vehicles on the road and bicycles using the protected bicycle lane. Many bicyclists feel safer when using protected bicycle lanes because of the complete separation from other traffic.
Protected bicycle lanes may be combined with road and pavement markings to provide an additional level of safety. It is important for both bicyclists and motorists to observe any road markings to ensure bicyclists can cross intersections safely on busy roads.
Intersection Safety Tips
Lane position should depend on which way you intend on traveling. The normal position for bicyclists is the right side of the road. If you need to turn right, stay to the right. However, if you intend to turn left, it is time to move to the center of the road. When driving through the intersection, position your bicycle between the right and left turning traffic.
Right turns are safest and require the least amount of maneuvering. Keep an eye out for traffic as you turn and get to the middle of the lane. Follow the same rules as a motorist by yielding to pedestrians and traffic coming from the left on a cross street. It helps to use your right arm to indicate you are about to turn, so motorists have greater awareness of your intentions.
Making a left turn is trickier, because it requires a higher degree of skill to accomplish. You will need to turn your head to observe traffic before moving across lanes. It helps to practice being able to look back without swerving at a location such as an empty parking lot. Once you have mastered looking back for traffic, you need to account for cars coming behind you. A vehicle that is close may not have time to see that you are indicating a turn, so wait until it passes while you continue to signal your intention to cross over.
The next vehicle should have ample time to slow down and let you change lanes; however, make sure you know the driver has acknowledged your intent before doing so.
You can find additional bicycle safety tips on the United States Department of Transportation website. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident that wasn’t your fault, reach out to the offices of H. Lehman Franklin, P.C., in Georgia, for a free initial personal injury consultation at 912-764-9616 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.