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Sharing the Road with Cyclists in Rhode Island

Here's what you need to know...
  • Collisions between motorists and cyclists are common in Rhode Island
  • Motorists could lose their license if they hit a cyclist
  • Both motorists and cyclists can purchase insurance to avoid financial strain after an accident

Motorists and cyclists often hear about the concept of sharing the road, and you may even see posted street signs reminding you to act accordingly. However, have you considered what this actually means? A closer look at driving and cycling laws and courtesies is beneficial.

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Sharing the Road as a Motorist

There are many collisions involving motorists and cyclists in Rhode Island each year. Some of the most common steps you can take to share the road include:

  • Looking for cyclists that may be on the side of the road or in designated cycling lanes
  • Avoid blocking bike lanes for even a short period of time
  • Be alert for typical cyclist behaviors

For example, a cyclist may swerve several feet out into a road away from a parked car, and this is so an occupant in the parked car does not open their door just as they are riding by.

Another example is cyclists rolling through stop signs and red lights. Many cyclists clip their shoes to their pedals, so they may not take the time to stop at signs and red lights as they are legally required to do.

While these are dangerous behaviors for cyclists, motorists should be observant and take proper action to avoid an accident.

Sharing the Road as a Cyclist

Just as motorists should share the road with cyclists, cyclists should also share the road with motorists. These are some steps cyclists can take to share the road:

  • Be aware of motorists’ behaviors and tendencies
  • Avoid wearing headphones and be alert at all times
  • Avoid darting or weaving in and out of traffic
  • Observe all traffic laws
  • Ride defensively in the same manner a vehicle driver would to avoid collisions

Tips on Sharing the Road

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If a motorist hits a cyclist, he or she could face the loss of a driver’s license, criminal charges, the loss of insurance, and more. The cyclist may suffer significant injuries or worse. These are things that both parties want to avoid, and you can follow these important tips to share the road more effectively.

– For Motorists

One of the best steps that you can take as a motorist to prevent a collision with a cyclist is to always drive carefully and cautiously. These are some other practical steps you can take to stay safe.

  • Avoid unsafe driving behavior, such as eating while driving or sending text messages. You may not see a cyclist if you turn your attention away from the road for even a few seconds, and this could have disastrous consequences.
  • When you do see a cyclist on the road in front of you or approaching you from behind, remember that you are required to yield to them. You never know what actions they may take, such as their need to suddenly swerve outward to avoid an obstacle in the road in front of them. You should always expect the unexpected with cyclists.
  • Be courteous and considerate to cyclists. One step you can take to accomplish this goal is to allow plenty of space between you and the cyclist when you are passing them. Avoid getting too close as this could cause the cyclist to become alarmed and make erratic movements.
  • Because collisions between motorists and cyclists can and do occur periodically even when the best efforts are taken to prevent an accident, you need to ensure that your insurance policy covers cyclist incidents. You can discuss your current coverage with your agent. If necessary, shop for new coverage that is more protective and inclusive.

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– For Cyclists

Just as there are things that motorists can do to avoid collisions with cyclists, there are also things that cyclists can do to stay safer on the road.

  • Most significantly, just obey traffic laws – You are required by law to stop at stop signs and red lights just as motorists are, and you increase your chance of getting into an accident when you fail to do so.
  • Riding with the flow of traffic – Being observant of cars approaching you is also important.
  • Slow down to avoid being hit if you want to go around a parked car – Veering into a lane of traffic without looking for a vehicle approaching you is dangerous behavior that could have disastrous consequences.
  • You should also be aware of what you are wearing
    • A safety helmet should be worn at all times and should fit snugly.
    • Avoid wearing headphones as you will not be able to hear when cars are approaching or honking at you.
    • In addition, wear brightly colored clothes with reflective tape to increase your visibility to drivers. Drivers cannot avoid hitting you if they cannot see you on the road.
  • You may not be aware that cyclists can get insurance coverage – Some policies, for example, provide you with personal injury coverage if you are struck by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Seventeen percent of RI drivers are uninsured.

Dangers of Hogging the Road

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Hogging the road is the opposite of sharing it, and it means that you are not driving courteously with all vehicles on the road, including bicycles and automobiles. This can have disastrous consequences for both you and other people on the road.

As a motorist, your vehicle could be seriously damaged if you strike a cyclist. You may also be injured yourself, and you could lose your driver’s license.

In addition, your car insurance may not pay for all related expenses, and you may have to pay for some of these expenses out of your own pocket. Your insurance rates may also skyrocket, or you may face the total loss of coverage. This would make it illegal for you to drive in Rhode Island.

As a cyclist, you and your bicycle could be injured in an accident. Not all motorists are properly insured, and this means that a collision could leave you with significant expenses that you must pay for out of your own pocket.

You can see that cyclists and motorists both face stressful consequences if they are involved in a collision in Rhode Island.

A smart idea is to review your current insurance coverage today to ensure that you have enough coverage to meet your needs. Remember that state minimum coverages are not always sufficient or ideal for all needs, and you may need to upgrade to a more substantial and inclusive policy.

Finding the Right Car Insurance for You

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There is a wide range of policy options available for motorists to choose from in Rhode Island. For example, while you need to purchase the minimum amount of liability auto insurance required by state law, you also may need to purchase a collision or comprehensive policy that will pay for your own expenses in an accident.

A smart idea is to determine how much coverage you need. Then, you can shop for low rates online.

Request quotes from various top insurance providers that have a solid financial rating and a great reputation. Then, follow these same steps to update your coverage every six months to ensure that you are always fully insured by a great policy.

Cyclists should also learn more about cyclist insurance coverage available. You face significant risks when you cycle on the roads with cars racing by you at high speeds, and you need to take matters into your own hands to protect yourself. Cyclist insurance can provide you with peace of mind that your expenses will be paid for if you are involved in an accident.

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