How to Share the Road With Bicyclists in Kansas City

In 2017, 333 vehicle crashes in Kansas City involved pedal cyclists. These crashes caused 298 injuries and five deaths. Although bicyclists can contribute to accidents, many crashes arise because of motor vehicle driver negligence. As a motorist in KC, it is your responsibility to share the road safely with bikers. Doing so takes knowing all applicable traffic laws and doing your part to prevent collisions.

Were you recently involved in a bicycle collision? If so, reach out to a bike accident lawyer in Kansas City to learn what your legal options.

Treat Them Like Vehicles

Too many drivers in Kansas City let negative perceptions of bicyclists alter the way they drive near them. Since bicycles cannot travel as quickly as motor vehicles, some drivers may expect them to stay off the roads. Yet both Missouri and Kansas state laws treat bicycles like vehicles. This means bicyclists have the right to use the road like motor vehicle drivers. In fact, Kansas City statutes prohibit bicyclists on sidewalks in most business districts.

Bicycles have all the same rights to the road as you do. Treat them with the respect you would give fellow motorists, even if they are traveling at a speed slower than you would like. Never honk or shout at bicyclists unless you are doing so to prevent a collision, as this could startle a biker and cause a wreck. Stay calm and bide your time until you can go around the bicyclist safely.

Leave Extra Following and Passing Distance

Although bicyclists deserve the same respect as other roadway users, they also require special care. The vulnerability of bicyclists in an accident requires extra care from other roadway users to prevent collisions. As a driver, you can help prevent crashes and injuries by allowing extra space between you and a nearby bicycle. Leave at least three feet between your vehicle and the bicycle, even when passing. Leave enough room to give yourself time to brake should the bicyclist come to a stop or fall into the road.

Do not tailgate bicyclists or pass unnecessarily closely. If you wish to pass a bicyclist, do so slowly and with plenty of space. Kansas City laws require vehicles to pass to the left of bicycles proceeding in the same direction. They need to have at least three feet between the two vehicles. A driver cannot return to the right side of the road until enough space is available to safely clear the overtaken bicycle. The law permits the passing of bicycles in no-passing zones, but only when it is safe to do so. Leave more room than you think you need if you are afraid of striking a bicycle in Kansas City.

Look Before Opening the Door

Dooring a bicyclist, or opening your door into an oncoming cyclist, can fling the biker from his or her vehicle and cause personal injuries. It is your responsibility to check to ensure the road is clear before opening car doors. Look twice to make sure no oncoming bicyclists are in the bike lane or the roadway before opening your driver-side door. Do not leave any doors of your vehicle open longer than is necessary to load or unload passengers.

Check Blind Spots

Many fatal bicycle accidents occur at intersections when drivers fail to adequately check their blind spots and turn onto oncoming cyclists. Right-hand turns are especially dangerous for bicyclists, who must lawfully stay as far to the right side of the road as possible. Always check your blind spots before making a right turn, even if you do not remember passing a bicycle prior to the turn. A cyclist may have recently rolled up, or you may have passed without notice.

When making a left-hand turn, do not miscalculate the distance of an oncoming cyclist. Underestimating distance or speed could result in a vehicle turning in front of a bicycle, without leaving the cyclist enough room to stop or maneuver away. Left-hand turn accidents can be fatal for bicyclists, who may collide head-on with vehicles. Follow all roadway rules in Kansas City and pay attention to the road to protect bicyclists.