Portland is known for its walkable and bikeable neighborhoods. In fact, the Rose City tops most rankings as the most bike-friendly city in the U.S., with a thriving cycling culture and an abundance of bicycle-friendly infrastructure. While there are many upsides, the number of cyclists on the roads in Portland can make driving and sharing the road more challenging.
Whether you ride a bike or drive a car, it’s important to always be on the lookout for hazards – especially in the busiest parts of the city. While biking may be a summer activity in many cities, in Portland it’s a way of life. Since Rose-City residents are out on their bikes year round, it’s important to take precautions regardless of the season!
Keep reading for our top tips to avoid cyclists on Portland’s roads and what to do if you’re ever in a collision.
1. Use caution when turning.
When turning at an intersection, most drivers have the instinct to check for pedestrians and other vehicles before proceeding. However, it’s vital that you check your mirrors and blind spots for bicyclists as well. Because they are less visible than other cars and much faster than those walking on foot, it can be easy to turn at the wrong moment, which can result in a nasty collision.
Whether you’re turning right or left, take time to scan the sides of the road to make sure you’re in the clear.
2. Leave plenty of space when passing.
It can be frustrating to get stuck behind a slow bike, which is why most drivers pass when they approach a two wheeler. Unfortunately, these situations are some of the most likely to result in an accident. Even if you just barely brush up against the bike, this can cause serious harm to the rider.
When passing cyclists, leave at least three feet of space to make sure they have enough room.
3. Stay out of bike lanes.
Bike lanes may be narrow, but they still need to be respected as a designated section of the road. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for cars (especially larger trucks or vans) to veer into the bike lane. Even if it looks like it’s not being used, you never know who might be turning a corner or speeding down the street.
Be aware of bike lanes at all times and be sure to give them the space they need to ride safely.
4. Check before opening your door.
If you’ve ever cycled yourself, you’ve probably heard of “dooring.” This is when an individual opens their driver-side door just as a bicyclist is approaching, causing the unsuspecting cyclist to hit the door. This is an unfortunately common accident and can result in serious injuries to the cyclist. In fact, even experienced cyclists have died from this type of accident
Before exiting your car on the driver’s side, look out your window to be sure you’re in the clear. This is especially important if you’re in a populated area like downtown Portland.
5. Avoid using your horn.
Car horns are a convenient and effective way to alert other vehicles of your presence, and when used correctly, can prevent unfortunate collisions. However, when it comes to interacting with cyclists, horns can do more harm than good. It’s important to remember that horns from other vehicles sound muffled when you’re in a car yourself. But for cyclists with no barrier, a typical car horn can sound exceptionally loud. Not only is this frightening for the cyclists, but it can even cause them to veer off or lose control of the bike.
If you want to acknowledge a bicyclist while passing or let them know you’re there, it’s much better (and safer) to be patient and give them a friendly wave instead.
What To Do if You Hit a Bicyclist
No one wants to get into a car accident – least of all one that involves a pedestrian or cyclist. By driving safely this fall and throughout the year, you can substantially limit the chances that you’ll be involved in an accident with a bicyclist.
Unfortunately, accidents happen even to the most careful among us. That’s why it’s essential to be prepared and know what to do if you hit a cyclist. Here are the important steps to take:
- Stop your car immediately, but safely.
- Make sure everyone is okay and check for any injuries, but do not admit fault at the scene.
- Call an ambulance, if necessary.
- If you can, move your car out of the way of traffic.
- Call the police.
- Take photos of any damage to your car, the cyclist’s bike, and any other personal property.
- Get the details of everyone involved in the accident and any witnesses, including names, phone numbers, and insurance info.
- Notify your insurance company as quickly as possible.
Mackin’s can help!
If you end up in an accident with a bicyclist, the first and most important concern is to check and make sure everyone is safe and get any resulting injuries treated as quickly as possible. While the cyclist and their bike are more likely to sustain injuries or damage than the driver or their vehicle, your car can still get a little banged up in the collision.
Whether your car has only minor scratches or major dents and windshield damage (or anything in between), it’s important to choose the right collision repair shop. Mackin’s can help repair and restore your vehicle and get you back out on the roads as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. We know accidents can be stressful and disruptive. We offer comprehensive accident resources and we’ll work directly with your insurance provider to save you the hassle.