Accidents can result from ignorance of bikers’ rights

We’ve all done it. Admit it: you’ve gotten stuck behind a bicyclist or motorcyclist and gotten a little nervous or impatient. “How am I going to pass them safely?” you might ask yourself.

Apparently, not enough people show that much concern, and that is unfortunate. In fact, there are misconceptions about what rights bikers have on the roadway in Florida. Many people don’t realize they have to adhere to the same rules any other motorist would. The driver of an SUV who believes bicyclists are in the way might not realize all bikers have a right to stay in the middle of a lane. This leads to more bicycle or motorcycle accidents.

One bicyclist who travels dozens of miles per day on her bike tells the Orlando Sentinel she’s been in many scrapes, mostly caused by the ignorance of other drivers or bicyclists. One of her worst accidents involved being hit by another bike going the wrong way in a bike lane. She reportedly broke her finger and suffered two herniated discs.

Probably the biggest misconception is drivers not understanding that bikers have the right to be in the middle of a traffic lane. In fact, they are perfectly free to “control the lane,” as it is called, to avoid possible dangerous obstacles on the side of the road. It also allows them to make turns more safely, sources indicate.

But there are two sides to the coin. The interviewed bicyclist says some fellow travelers give bicyclists a bad name. They, too, must abide by traffic laws, including stopping for red lights and stop signs and using proper illumination at night.

What it comes down to is cooperation. If all types of travelers would do their best to accommodate each other, accidents would not be so common.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Sharing the road: bicyclists, bikers and motorists have same rights and duties under traffic laws,” Henry Pierson Curtis, 16 May 2011