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How to Deal with Cyclists when Driving

last updated June 19, 2019

There are behaviors that are recommended on how to deal with cyclists while driving. To begin with, we try to understand this;

How to Deal with Cyclists when Driving

Do cyclists have the right of way?

Like any other person, cyclists have a right to be on the road. Cycling is used by many as a mode of travel. Others do it for fun. Either way, cyclists should be accommodated on the road. It is sad that drivers and cyclists have proved to have some level of animosity between each other. It must come to the attention of the drives and cyclists that safety is the key thing.

Statistics show that a big number of cyclists get involved in road accidents while some of them are reported dead. The growing number clearly shows that there is a need to create awareness on road safety tips in order to minimize these accidents. Programs have been initiated to help deal with this epidemic such as the  International lorry week which has helped many cyclists and drivers to identify major causes of road accidents. Some rules have also been set to ensure that both drivers and cyclists freely use the roads without causing tension to themselves and other road users. These rules include;

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How to deal with cyclists while driving: Rules for the drivers

Drivers should observe the following rules when dealing with cyclists;

Slowing down and giving enough space

For all road users, no one is considered special than the other. A driver should, therefore, slow down and allow a cyclist to pass when they see them. Oncoming lane can be used if possible. It’s here we seek to understand how far should drivers stay away from cyclists? Drivers should always keep at least a meter away from cyclists in the city to give them enough space. Cyclists are supposed to maintain their lane and possibly at the middle to ensure space is maintained.

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Opening doors

Some drivers have the habit of parking the car and carelessly opening the door. It should come to their understanding that they should use the side view mirror to check if there is a cyclist around. In case there is one, allow them to pass otherwise you may cause serious and fatal damages to both the rider and the car as well.

Use of phones

Drivers have a tendency of using their phones while driving which distracts their attention. This may result in knocking down cyclists using the road. Due to this drivers are advised to avoid using their phones while driving.

Patience and courtesy

Anyone can be on the wrong side and at times drivers feel agitated by cyclists on the wrong side. These drivers yell at the cyclists creating a rivalry between them. Drivers are encouraged to be patient and polite to such cyclists. They can take time and talk to such cyclists to avoid repetition of the same mistake.

Use of signals

A number of road accidents have been caused by drivers who fail to use signals appropriately. Cyclists can’t understand your intention if you fail to use signals as it is required. Drivers should, therefore, ensure that they use indicators and lights to warn about any hazard when need be.

Lights control at night

It should run in the mind of the driver that cyclists have equal rights like others to use the road. So, just as they control light at night for other oncoming drivers they should also do it for the cyclists. Headlights that are brightly lighted hinder cyclists from seeing clearly which may result to them having a collision with other users of the road.

Rules for the cyclists

Rules to be observed by cyclists have also been developed. These rules include;

High visibility

There are cases when accidents occur not because drivers are ignorant but because they couldn’t see the cyclists clearly. Cyclists should, therefore, wear clothes that are brightly colored; possibly a reflector jacket. They should ride in a position that is visible and have their bicycles fitted with a lighting system to use at night. Maintaining eye contact with drivers to know if they can see you is also important.

Use of signals

Just as in the case of drivers, cyclists should not assume that everyone understands their intended movement. There are some hand signals that they’re encouraged to use in order to communicate to the drive on what they’re intending to do. Example, extending one arm in a horizontal manner to indicate they are making a turn to the left or to the right. Also rising one arm vertically to indicate they’re stopping.

Rules of the road

Like any other road user, cyclists must have knowledge of the rules of the road. The benefit of knowing these rules is that you’re safe, you can use them to claim legal justice when offended and you can avoid traffic offenses.

Use of bells

Your presence may not be noticed by other road users for one reason or the other. To notify others about your presence, cyclists are encouraged to have bells to ring in such cases. Apart from bells, there are other devices that can be used for the same e.g. physical horns.

Bike maintenance

Some cyclists ride on bikes that aren’t roadworthy. Just as cars are taken for servicing cyclists should also service their bikes before taking a ride to reduce road carnage resulting from the breakdown of poorly maintained bikes.

Listening to music and use of phones

A number of cyclists tend to have earphones on and ride while listening to music. Some even go to the extent of using their phones while cycling. All these activities lead to the distraction of the rider. As a result, the cyclist may collide with other users of the road or even ride on the wrong lane causing inconveniences.

Putting on helmets

The head is the most sensitive part of the human body and it is important for a cyclist to have their helmets on to minimize injuries in case an accident occurs.

Driving with cyclists

Most road accidents involving cyclists are in the form of collision with cars. The following are tips on how to deal with cyclists when driving.

Cautiousness on obstructions

Cyclists collide with vehicles as a result of sudden obstructions that result from drivers who open their car doors carelessly. To minimize this, cyclists should ensure that they’re visible while riding. Drivers should also look on their side mirrors to see if there is an oncoming cyclist.

Right positioning of oneself where there is a traffic light

When traffic lights order motorist and cyclists to stop, it is important that cyclists position themselves in an area they can be seen by the drivers. Cyclists are advised to avoid being at the side of a car because this increases the chances of being knocked down when the green light turns on because a driver may make a sharp turn on them.

Careful overtaking

Careless overtaking is among the leading causes of accidents between cyclists and drivers cyclists are faced with two risks as a result of careless overtaking. First, is when being overtaken by a car where the driver leaves little or no space for the cyclist. The cyclist is forced to deviate from their lane endangering their lives and those of others. The second one is when a cyclist is overtaking a vehicle that is moving slowly intending to make a turn but the drive hasn’t indicated his/ her intention. To avoid such incidences cyclists should ensure they ride at the middle of their lane so that drivers aren’t tempted to carelessly overtake them. The drivers should also signal their intentions.

Mindful crossing of junctions

Most drivers and cyclists have the tendency of just showing up when crossing junctions. They aren’t mindful of the other users who are also crossing the same junction. This may result in fatal accidents. To minimize carelessness while crossing the junction, the visibility of the cyclist is a key consideration. Drivers are also supposed to look on either side of the road before crossing the junction.

When should you pass cyclist?

There are certain factors that a motorist should understand on how to deal with cyclists when driving.  These factors include;


When passing a cyclist the driver must ensure that there is enough space for the two of them. It shouldn’t be the responsibly of the rider to get themselves space as a result of a driver passing them carelessly.  Leaving this responsibility to them, makes them get into a dilemma since it is usually sudden. Due to this, they may end up colliding with other users of the road.


Drivers should only pass a cyclist when they can clearly see the location of these cyclists. If it isn’t clear they should be patient enough.

Bend / junctions

It is important to consider bends and junctions on the road before passing a cyclist. This is because visibility is not clear in such regions and a slight carelessness may result in a terrible road accident.


Dealing with cyclists…

Observation of the tips highlighted above would improve how to deal with cyclists when driving. This would greatly help in minimizing the number of accidents on our roads. Everyone should enlighten themselves to ensure we stay safe on the road.

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