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How can you safely share the road with a cyclist?

Bicycle riders often unnerve drivers. It's hard not to be hyper-aware of the fact that there's no protective shell of metal and chrome around a bicyclist near you on the road. If you happen to collide, you know that the cyclist is probably going to be seriously hurt.

If you're anxious to avoid an accident with a cyclist on the road, follow this guide:

1. Put your phone away.

If you can't avoid the temptation of a quick peek at an incoming text or a glance to see who happens to be calling, turn the phone off entirely. Whatever -- whoever -- it is, can wait until you aren't on the road. Distracted driving is one of the biggest dangers to cyclists.

2. Watch your blind spots.

Most drivers make right turns without thinking much about it -- however, that's an easy way to hit a cyclist. You may have passed a bike without noticing it or one could come around a corner. Yes, the cyclist should be careful -- but that won't matter much if you're suddenly in an accident that you could have prevented with a quick look to the right before you turned.

3. Hold off on the horn.

You may not realize why a cyclist is doing a certain action unless you are completely familiar with the laws they have to follow. Give bike riders the benefit of the doubt and assume they're following the law. Even if you're sure they aren't, try to avoid startling a driver in the middle of traffic by angrily hitting your horn.

4. Pass with an excess of caution.

Before you pass a cyclist on the road, picture that person falling in front of you. Now, drive around the area where that might happen. Give every cyclist at least three feet (five is better) of space when you pass to avoid scaring him or her off balance -- even if you have to wait a little to make your pass.

5. Peek out when you park.

Before you open your car door into traffic (and potentially into the path of an oncoming cyclist), take a quick peek out the door. It's a small way to avoid a big accident and serious injuries to a cyclist.

Bike awareness is one of the best ways that you can make your daily commute safer -- for you and for others.

Source: Bicycling, "5 Tips for Driving Alongside Cyclists," Elly Blue, accessed March 09, 2018

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