Riding a bike can be a fun and healthy method of transportation. With many people nowadays looking to go eco-friendly — or at least to save some gas money — biking is gaining increased popularity in many communities and among people of all ages.

But cars and bicycles using the same roadway can be a frustrating experience for some motorists, particularly those in a hurry and when they can’t pass the bikes. However, for bicyclists it can also be a nerve-racking and dangerous time, especially if drivers aren’t paying attention. When a crash occurs between a car and a bike, it’s the bicyclist who has less protection.

That’s why it’s everybody’s responsibility to share the road. It’s also the law. Here in Alabama, when passing on the road, drivers must maintain a minimum of three feet of clearance between their vehicles and bicycles.

In an online article on bike safety practices, the Alabama Department of Transportation provided the following advice drivers should take to help prevent crashes with bike riders:

  • When passing a bicyclist on the road, always keep at least three feet of space between your vehicle and the bike — and remember, it’s Alabama law.
  • If the roadway isn’t wide enough to maintain the 3-foot space, slow your speed and don’t pass until it’s safe and legal.
  • If you are driving more than 25 mph, in a large vehicle or on a road with multiple lanes, give more than three feet of buffer space or get completely into another lane to pass a bicyclist.
  • And don’t forget that bicyclists have the same legal rights as car drivers.

Safety should be taken seriously

According to the same article, crashes in Alabama claimed the lives of six bicyclists and caused 212 bike-related injuries in 2017. In the same year, 11% of Alabama’s bike crash injuries involved kids 15 and younger, the department of transportation stated.

If you or a loved one is a bicyclist injured by a negligent driver, be sure you know the legal rights of every bike rider sharing the road.