The number of bicyclists in New York City has doubled in the last 20 years, and there are a lot more cars around too. Nationally, deaths among cyclists are decreasing due to use of helmets and provision of bike lanes, but there are still 600 deaths and 46,000 annual injuries. The New York Times has published a useful guide for both drivers and bicyclists on how to mix cars and bikes on the same busy urban streets.
The rules listed don't take into account the increasing level of anger and road rage, as drivers get upset being stopped in traffic or bicyclists at drivers who are so busy talking on their phones that they are clearly not paying attention. Another new cause for disaster, as bicycle lanes get more common, is the stopped Fedex or UPS truck in the bike lane, forcing cyclists way out into traffic.
The Door Prize, shown on the right, is also increasingly common, people just don't think to look when they get out of their cars. (probably because they are still on the cell phone)
The Right Hook, (left above) creamed Hubert Van Tol.
The rules from the New York Times:
If You're the Driver
Keep in mind that a bicycle is a vehicle and that a person riding one has the same rights as a driver of any other vehicle. Bicycles are legally entitled to use most roads, though they must ride on the shoulder when the speed limit exceeds 50 miles per hour.
Remember, too, that bicycles are hard to see and, unlike drivers, cyclists are unprotected by seat belts, air bags and steel cages.
When approaching a cyclist, slow down. When passing, clear the bike by at least three feet (five feet if you are driving a truck). Check your rearview mirror and be sure you can see the cyclist clearly before moving back into the lane.
Do not blow your horn behind cyclists. It can frighten riders and cause them to swerve.
Don't follow closely behind a bicycle, which may have to stop or maneuver suddenly to avoid a road hazard that could cause the cyclist to fall.
Be especially wary around young cyclists, including those on sidewalks, who may cross intersections or dart into the road from a driveway or midblock without looking.
Most serious crashes occur at intersections. When turning right, signal well ahead of time, turn from the middle of the intersection rather than across the bike path, and make sure no bike is on your right before you turn. Do not pass a cyclist if you will be turning right immediately after.
In bad weather, give cyclists a wider berth, just as you would do for other drivers.
When waiting to turn left or to proceed from a stop sign, yield to a bicycle that has the right of way. More than half of collisions occur when cyclists and drivers are on perpendicular paths, and three-fourths of these accidents result from a failure to yield the right of way.
Before opening your car door, check your mirror to be sure no bike is approaching. A passenger on the driver's side should open the door just enough to turn around to see if the path is clear.
Like it or not, bicyclists have the right to "take the lane" under certain conditions:
Â¶When overtaking a vehicle moving in the same direction.
Â¶When getting ready to turn left.
Â¶When a lane is too narrow to share with a car or truck.
Â¶When there are unsafe conditions on the road like double-parked vehicles, animals, pedestrians and potholes.
If You're the Cyclist
The first rule of safe cycling: Never forget that bicycles are vehicles and thus are obliged to follow the traffic rules that apply to drivers. Ride with the traffic, not against it. Wait for the green before crossing intersections. Signal all turns and stops and make full stops at stop signs.
Never ride on the sidewalk — sidewalk crashes are 25 times as frequent than crashes that occur on major streets. Safest are streets with bike lanes.
Ride in a straight path. If you must pull out into the lane used by drivers, turn around first to be sure the coast is clear.
If you are stopped at a light or stop sign to the right of a car or truck, the driver might not see you. Wait until the other vehicle clears the intersection before you proceed, in case the driver turns right unexpectedly.
Try to make eye contact with drivers before you change lanes or turn left.
Don't weave in and out of parked cars. Although this is challenging in cities like New York, try to ride at least three feet — and preferably five feet — from parked cars to avoid being "doored." Be alert to drivers and passengers who may be about to get out of cars, as well as to cars about to pull out of parking spots — they may not see you.
Protect yourself. Always wear a properly fitted bike helmet, one that sits firmly and level on your head, covering half your forehead.
Be visible. Wear brightly colored clothing in daylight (though I was wearing an electric blue running suit when I was hit and the driver still failed to see me); when riding in the dark, wear light-colored clothing and a reflector vest.
If you cycle at night, you are supposed to have a white headlight and red taillight (preferably a blinking one) so drivers can see you.
Scan the road 100 feet ahead for possible hazards. When approaching a pedestrian, ring your bell or call out "hey" or "excuse me."
Do not cycle wearing headphones or while using a cellphone. If you must make or take a call, pull over to the roadside and stop.
Now, get out on that bike and be lean and green.