A lot of attention is given to how drivers should act when out and about on the roads. This makes perfect sense, given that drivers of all kinds of vehicles are the main occupants of roads, so the advice and guidance needs to be targeted towards them.
However, it’s not just cars, vans, and trucks that use public roads. Pedestrians and cyclists also have the right to use public roads; cycling, in particular, is becoming more popular. Pedestrians and cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users, as they interact with the flow of traffic without the protection of a roll cage– yet so little advice is given about how this group should or shouldn’t behave.
So let’s rectify that. What are the golden road rules for pedestrians and cyclists?
#1 – The Vehicle Wins
Given that you have as much right to be on the road as any vehicle, it can be tough to cede ground. If it’s your right of way or the light is on green, you should be allowed to cross the road without fear for your safety– but let’s be honest: Some drivers are awful. They see pedestrians and cyclists as inconveniences to be ignored. The problem is all the worse with bigger vehicles like trucks, which have a tendency to make a driver feel more invincible on the road, and thus less likely to be understanding of other road users.
As a general rule, even if you have the right of way, always back down if a car or truck is trying to overtake you or prevent you crossing the road. Failing to do so could result in you needing a car or truck accident lawyer as you nurse the injuries inflicted; you’re never going to win a fight with a vehicle, so don’t pick them. Is this fair? No. Is it necessary for your own personal safety? Yes.
#2 – Be Conscientious Of Drivers
If you’re cycling, it’s only right that you expect drivers to be respectful of you. However, this works both ways. You should always try and cycle as carefully as possible, using your arms to signal, and never weaving in and out of traffic.
Admittedly, this can sometimes feel difficult to do. You would be showing drivers a courtesy that they probably won’t extend to you; some drivers are outright unpleasant when it comes to dealing with cyclists. However, this is about your personal protection as much as it is your etiquette. By paying extra attention to guarantee you’re not being problematic for motorists, you’re less likely to fall into an accident due a car driver not paying enough attention to what you’re doing.
#3 – Use Mirrors To Keep Yourself Safer
This predominantly applies to cyclists, but it’s not a bad idea for pedestrians either– someone really needs to invest rearview mirrors for when walking along a busy road! It’s far safer to cycle if you use mirrors rather than glancing back over your shoulder. There are plenty of easily-attached mirrors, so make it a priority to install and then use them regularly. These are particularly important when you’re changing lanes or pulling into the main carriageway to pass a parked car, so they will definitely be a wise investment that helps keep you safe.
#4 – Wear Appropriate Clothing
If you’re going to be walking or cycling after dark, then it’s imperative that you wear reflective clothing. If you can’t manage that, then at least wear bright clothing. Dark clothing after nightfall is a no-no if you want to protect your safety. Drivers may be traveling at speed, and they may simply not have the reaction time to notice that you’re on the road if you’re not wearing bright clothing.
Furthermore, if you’re a cyclist, extend this principle to your bike. It needs to be visible at night, so invest in a stationary light that you affix to the rear of your saddle or onto a spoke. This should make sure any cars behind you are well aware you’re there, and that they should take the effort to give you a wide berth.
#5 – Monitor Weather Conditions
If the weather is going to be particularly bad — torrential rain, for example — then it’s best to stay away from routes with heavy traffic. You will be less visible due to conditions, and thus not as safe as you should be. This applies to both pedestrians and cyclists.
As a pedestrian or a cyclist, you do have a right to use the roads as you see fit. By keeping the above in mind, you can be sure you’re doing this in the safest way possible.