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enforcement issues & programs

FHWA bicycle safety education resource center


Whether they deserve it or not, motorists tend to get a bad rap among cyclists. But poor behavior on the part of motorists is often simply a response to misbehavior by cyclists. Can cyclists fairly expect motorists to respect their rights on the roads if they do not attempt to ride predictably, signal, and adhere to traffic laws?

When educating motorists about cycling, one should approach them with appropriate respect. Respecting motorists is the first step in awakening them to the need to safely share the road with cyclists and pedestrians. When cyclists or pedestrians alienate motorists, they inspire the ill will of some of the most powerful people in traffic. Cyclists- and cycling-minded educators- must learn to work with motorists; not against them. Realize that motorists may not have any experience cycling and therefore may not understand the situations that confront bicyclists in traffic.

tools and skills
  learn about important safety information. more   learn the fundamentals of good bicycling. more   view an extensive list of resources on the web. more


When educating motorists, one should always emphasize the benefits of sharing the road, such as safer, more inviting streets with reduced crime, increased property value, a better environment, and an overall enhanced quality of life.
Instructors in motorist education should underscore the notion that a bicycle is not a toy but a viable means of transportation- often the only means of transportation for many people.
Those educating motorists should stress that they are not trying to force motorists off the roads or take away their rights, but illustrate that cyclists have an equal right to the road. The more motorists know about cycling safety, the safer streets will be for everyone on them.

tools and skills
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Tools and Skills

Motorists should learn to look for cyclists in traffic just as they would check for cars, especially when switching lane position or turning or going through an intersection. They should look for cyclists in parking lots, or exiting and entering roadways. Motorists must always anticipate cyclists at night and learn how to detect them.
The motorist must pay special attention to children on bicycles, particularly in residential neighborhoods and in school zones, on sidewalks, and entering or exiting driveways. Teach motorists that kids are not small adults and therefore cannot deal with traffic in the way that adults can. They should understand that kids do not judge speeds or distance well, and act accordingly.
Explain to motorists about bike lanes and teach motorists how to operate around them.
Motorists should be aware of weather conditions, how they can affect cyclists (i.e., the windblast effect), and adjust accordingly.
Drivers of motor vehicles should be aware why some bicyclists choose to bicycle busy streets or choose to bike on the street even when there may be a bike trail in the vicinity. Stress to motorists that even if there is high traffic, cyclists have as much right to the street as they do.
Teach motorists how to safely pass an individual or group of riders on the road. Motorists should learn how to cope with interruptions in traffic, such as cycling races and tours.
Explain the importance of driving predictably and obeying traffic laws, just as motorists would expect other drivers and cyclists to do.
Motorists should learn why crashes happen and what risky behavior is, so that they can avoid and prevent future accidents.
Teach motorists how to communicate with cyclists, particularly when negotiating right of way. They must make sure that a cyclist knows they have seen him or her, through good eye contact.
Explain the importance of showing common courtesy and respect on the road. Stress using less harmful ways of venting anger and frustration, rather than taking these feelings on a cyclist. Drivers should learn how motorist harassment can be threatening to cyclists and avoid it.
Motorists should be encouraged to look for and report impaired cyclists.
Motorists should learn why people cycle, for health and fitness, transportation, recreational fun, and the environment. Motorists who have never cycled before should be encouraged to give it a try.

tools and skills
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More Resources for the Road

The New York state Department of Transportation offers tips on how to share the road

Oak Ridge National Library's Bicycle Safety for Motorists

Purchase safety videos for motorists for yourself or your organization

Motorists, Cyclists, and Commuting

Why Commute By Bike?

Why Support Bicycle Commuting?

A Guide to Commuting for the Employer

A Guide to Commuting for the Employee

Commuting and Public Health

Understanding Cyclist Behavior in Traffic

League of American Bicyclists' 10 Commandments of Cycling

Principles of Traffic

How to avoid Motorist Errors

Bike Lanes- What They Are and How They Work

Riding Right- On the Right

Driving at Night-- Look for their Lights