Bikes require extra attention from other drivers

Friday, June 2, 2017

The annual Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska wonít be passing through western Nebraska this year, starting in Falls City on Sunday and winding up in Tekamah next Saturday.

The annual Tour de Nebraska bicycle ride, featured in a story on todayís Outdoors page starts in St. Paul June 21 and stops in Loup City, Broken Bow and Ord before returning to St. Paul five days later.

Weíve already seen a number of long-distance bicyclists passing through the area, in addition to local riders, and there is no shortage of motorized two-wheelers all summer long for events such as this weekendís Heart Heroes poker run and the annual Sturgis migration later in the summer.

Two wheels are inherently less stable than four or more, so itís important for car and truck drivers to watch out for bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Some general tips:

* Donít pass a bicyclist until you can see that you can safely do so. Nebraska law requires you to leave at least three feet between your vehicle and the bicycle. Make sure you take your mirrors into account, as serious accidents can result from mirrors clipping cyclists.

Three feet is a minimum; more is better in case the bicyclist has to avoid a pothole, glass or other obstacles. Drag from a passing vehicle can pull a cyclist off balance and out of control.

* Pass as slowly and smoothly as you can ó itís unnerving for bicyclists when you suddenly accelerate.

* Avoid honking your horn, which might startle cyclists. Most of them wear mirrors and are aware of approaching vehicles, but give a ďfriendly beepĒ if you must.

Motorcycles need additional consideration.

* Beware your blind spots. They can be easy to miss when turning or switching lanes. Turn your head as well as checking your mirrors when turning or merging.

* Slow down behind motorcycles. They donít handle the road the same way as cars, and can be much more sensitive to changes in the road. They also maneuver much faster than cars can, so slow down to make sure you have time to react.

* Donít tailgate. Leaving room between you and a motorcycle in front of you is essential to helping prevent accidents.

* Use your turn signals. Thatís important whether or not there are motorcycles nearby.

* Dim your headlights. High beams are more blinding for motorcyclists, so itís important to dim when you pass them on the roads at night.

* Be careful taking left turns. All turns can be dangerous for cyclists, but left turns are especially dangerous due to your blind spots.

* Donít drink and drive. Drinking and driving or distracted driving makes sharing the road more dangerous for everyone.

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