Safety on the roads is not limited to just drivers, just bicyclists, or just pedestrians. Everyone needs to be aware of the rules of the road and pay attention.
If you walk, run, bike, or drive, you need to be aware of the role you play in keeping yourself and others safe.
Click the buttons above to read about specific safety rules to follow regardless of how you travel.
How to Share the Road Safely with Bicyclists
When you share the road with cyclists, you must take extra precautions. As the weather gets warmer, you may see more people riding bikes during your travels, so it is important to give them plenty of space and understand that they are facing hazards on the roads, too.
While cyclists typically know the rules of the road, some do not, so it is important to avoid doing anything that might put them or you at risk. Some useful tips include:
- Don’t tailgate them
- Watch for cyclists traveling the wrong way down the road
- Reduce your speed so you can react quickly if necessary
- It is Arkansas law to give cyclists three feet of room when passing, so do this every time.
Making sure you are careful while sharing space with cyclists can reduce the possibility of an accident.
Give Cyclists the Right of Way
The priority vehicle when sharing the road is the bicycle and its rider. That’s right—bicycles are considered vehicles, and they have the right of way when you are yielding at intersections or making turns. Allow them extra space when driving or parking, and make sure you check your blind spots by looking over your shoulder when merging, backing up, or opening doors.
Ensure you are driving safely at all times when sharing the road with bicycles, and give them a chance to ma to make turns or cross roads where there are possible hazardous conditions such as at stop signs.
Be Aware of Children on Bikes
As the newest people learning to share the roads with other cyclists and drivers, children have the most to learn about traffic safety and are thus less predictable than the typical bike rider. Be as careful as possible when driving in areas where children may be present on bikes. Because they are smaller, they may be harder to see, so give them extra time to make decisions on the road and at crosswalks.
While most areas allow children to ride bikes on sidewalks, they may end up in the street for one reason or another, such as to get around other vehicles or pedestrians. Knowing that children may move swiftly and make mistakes can help you be sympathetic to their experience. Showing them safe driving will help them make good decisions about their bike riding, so be a good example on the roads!
How to Share the Road Safely with Runners and Walkers
Watch for Pedestrians Crossing
Whether running or walking, pedestrians can add complications to driving that drivers commuting via usual highway driving—or driving in areas inaccessible to foot traffic—may not experience.
Pedestrians usually traverse on sidewalks rather than the road itself, so be sure to give them plenty of space at intersections and crosswalks. If a sidewalk is not available, laws require pedestrians to walk as far to the side of the road as they safely can facing traffic. Being vigilant of this difference between pedestrian traffic versus bicycling laws can be useful as you share the roads with these travelers.
Because you may not know their ability, giving them additional time to move is a necessity. Exercise patience and understand that they are likely running or walking as fast as they can.
Turn Carefully at Intersections
Pedestrians may not be aware that trucks and buses could make wide turns at intersections and may be too close to the edge of a corner when this occurs. Be careful when making these turns and drive slower. Signaling can also help them understand they may have to move back, so use those turns signals!
Double-Check Blind Spots
Pedestrians may not always be visible to drivers, so awareness of their presence is a must. Driving slower speeds when pedestrians are present can help avoid any mishaps. Also, be prepared to stop in case they do not see you or make assumptions about how quickly you can stop for them. Don’t forget to be careful backing up, too!
How to Share the Road Safely with Drivers
Tips for Cyclists
Obey All Traffic Laws
If you bike, you are not exempt from following the rules of the road. If anything, you need to be as vigilant, if not more so, than drivers. Use hand signals to tell drivers and other cyclists you are stopping, and learn the proper ways to signal that you are turning left or right. Also, avoid listening to music with both earbuds, as they pose a distraction and can keep you from hearing vehicles around you.
When you ride, go with the flow of traffic rather than against it, and stay as far to the right as possible to be safe. If you are with one or more other cyclists, make sure you don’t ride more than two abreast. Otherwise you’ll impede the flow of traffic. It is best practice to ride in a single file line to avoid holding up other drivers. This keeps you safe as well as other drivers and pedestrians.
Lastly, ride in a predictable way that doesn’t cause drivers or pedestrians to react quickly to your movements. This means you should avoid weaving in and out between vehicles, riding in a straight line, and letting others know you are passing them through an audible signal (such as shouting, “On your left!” as you pass them on their left side). Following these rules and making safety a priority will help you and those sharing the road with you stay safe.
Wear Correct Safety Gear
Head injuries are a leading cause of fatalities from bike accidents, so it is vitally important you wear a properly fitting helmet whenever you go cycling. Even a short trip can result in an accident, so be sure to put it on every time. The helmet should fit snugly and level across your head, with no more than two inches of space above your eyebrows.
Wearing reflective gear is also a safety measure that keep cyclists safe. Attach a white light in the front of your bike and a red light to the back to help with low light conditions. Using reflective tape and clothing can help with visibility, too. Bright clothing, as opposed to darker clothing, will enhance drivers’ ability to see you and reduce the chance of an accident.
Check That Your Equipment is in Working Order
Did you know that the condition of your bike equipment can impact your safety? It’s true! Before you ride, make sure your tires are properly inflated to the levels recommended by the tire manufacturer. This may vary based on the types of tires you have and your weight.
Also, check that your seat and handlebars are not loose, as any of this equipment in poor shape can cause problems as you ride! Running gear such as derailleurs, which help move the gears on the bike, should be in good working order, too.
Tips for Pedestrians
Keep to the Sidewalk
If you plan to go on a walk or a run, there are some safety rules you must follow. For starters, stay on sidewalks as often as you can. This is both for your safety and the safety of drivers and cyclists making their way around your community.
In most municipalities, roadways without sidewalks are off limits to pedestrians. However, if you find yourself in a place where the sidewalk cuts off and you need to cross, be sure to do so safely. Watch for vehicles and try to cross in designated areas such as crosswalks or intersections.
Also, if you do end up on foot in an area without a clear sidewalk, walk as far to the right side of the road as you safely can and face traffic so that drivers can see you.
Even if an intersection does not have walk signals for pedestrians, you should still cross safely with the light. A green light in the direction you are walking signals it is safe for you to cross, but you should still use caution at these intersections. Drivers may not see you, so it’s best to avoid assuming they do.
Dress to be Seen
Walking or running at any time of day, but especially at night, means visibility is of utmost importance. Make sure you wear bright or reflective clothing so that the light from headlights, lights mounted on bikes, or street lamps helps you be visible.
If you are walking or running close to dawn or dusk, taking a flashlight is a good idea. Not only will it help improve your visibility to others, you will also be able to see the path in front of you better!
Be Aware of Drivers and Cyclists
Although vehicles, which also includes cyclists, must give pedestrians the right of way, they may not see pedestrians while driving. It is up to you as someone walking or running to be aware of the driver’s and cyclist’s limitations.
Other helpful safety tips for those on foot include:
- Stay out of their blind spots (sometimes referred to as No-Zones)
- Be prepared to step back at curbs where buses or trucks may take wide turns and run up on them
- Don’t dart out in traffic and hope vehicles will be able to stop for you—they may not be able to react in time.
- Give vehicles plenty of space for stops
- Never walk behind vehicles that are backing up
- Never use both earbuds to listen to music when walking or running, as you may not hear something important, such as a car coming toward you