Safer Streets Together: Tips for Sharing the Road



Over the next few weeks, Carlsbad Commuter will curate a series of resources, programs, and information to help equip all commuters with additional ways to contribute to Safer Streets Together.

 

In the City of Carlsbad, there has been a 233% increase in collisions involving bikes and e-bikes since 2019. To immediately address this public safety threat, the city declared a local state of emergency on Aug. 23, 2022 and the City Council ratified that action on Aug. 30. Emergency declarations allow cities to reallocate resources and expedite certain actions to address an existing or imminent threat.


Carlsbad’s declaration cites these relevant statistics:

  • Collisions reported in Carlsbad involving bikes or e-bikes have increased significantly.

  • According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s estimates, U.S. roadway deaths rose 10.5% in 2021 and an additional 7% during the first three months of 2022, the highest number for the first quarter in two decades.

  • The increase in deaths is due to speeding, impaired or distracted driving and other reckless behavior.

  • E-bikes are faster and heavier than traditional bicycles and e-bike injuries are more likely to be more severe and require hospitalization than traditional bicycle injuries.

  • School-aged children increasingly use e-bikes, and schools are now back in session.


Tips for Drivers

This rise in traffic incidents is a public safety issue that deserves an “all hands on deck” solution from the community, both residents and businesses. Whether commuting to work in Carlsbad or out and about, everyone can take greater responsibility and mindfulness on our roads. To get started, we identified six ways drivers can incorporate safety into their daily life and safely share the road with cyclists:


1. Follow traffic laws and drive with respect.

Slow down and drive the speed limit. Use turn signals to help others anticipate your next turn.


Honking, yelling or other aggressive behaviors can pose a safety threat to yourself and cyclists.


2. Curb your distractions.

California law prohibits the use of cell phones unless it is used in hands-free mode while driving. If a phone call is necessary, we say better safe than sorry and just pull over before using your cell phone behind the wheel. If you’re under 18, you aren’t allowed to use a phone at all while driving.


Cell phones aren’t the only distractions. Consider music, earbuds and eating too.


3. Make room on the road.

Leave at least 3 feet of space when passing a person riding a bike, and if you need to pass, only cross at dashed lines and slow down. Shared Lane Markings, or “sharrows,” indicate a shared roadway with bikes and the direction of travel.


4. Use extra caution at driveways and intersections.

Look twice and be sure to look for bikes and pedestrians, not just other cars. Look both ways when exiting a driveway to avoid a collision on the sidewalk or street.


When approaching an intersection, look out specifically for bicyclists and use signals to make turns. For right turns, check mirrors and blind spots. For left turns, allow oncoming bicyclists to clear the intersection first.


5. Prevent “dooring” passing bicyclists.

If you need to exit your vehicle while parked on a roadway or near a bike lane, avoid hitting passing cyclists by first checking your side and rearview mirrors. Then exit using the “Dutch reach” by looking back and opening with the hand furthest from the door.


6. Be mindful in school zones.

Create a safe travel environment by practicing extra caution and care when traveling around schools. Slow down and be alert.


Let’s look out for one another and be the best versions of ourselves on the road. Share the road. Share the responsibility. Be safe.


Please read our other posts in this series:

How slowing down can make all the difference