"DON’T HONK AT CYCLISTS" and other advice for drivers

Cars are lovely. Some of them are very beautiful. They let you go faster than by foot or bike. They let you stay dry in the rain. They can be used to transfer large amounts of things from one point to another (such as suitcases or groceries or IKEA furniture).

On thing cars can’t do? They can’t make you polite.

Cars zipping down city streets - CLARA Blog

Like everywhere else in life, there are rules on the road. The CLARA team is predominantly cyclists – we have a lot of opinions on how, what, why, when and where to cycle, mostly in line with our motto of “Be seen”.

However, while we often talk about cyclists and joggers and pedestrians, we almost never put things in the perspective of those that use driving as a main form of transportation. We talk ABOUT them, but not really TO them. That changes today.

We, the cyclists of CLARA, all have driving licenses. Some of us have cars, some of us drive occasionally. We will now present a list of suggestions for drivers – not general rules like “stop at a stop sign” or “go when the light is green”. These are our own little improvements, and we hope they will help make the road a better place.

  • Pay attention to the road, but also to the area around it. It’s usually best to slow down if you see a dog playing close to a road, or kids running around with a ball. Their attention spans are shorter, and they might not notice a car until it’s too late.
  • Always check the rear-view mirrors before opening a door, even when facing the sidewalk. Opening a car door takes a second, and it effectively creates a barrier that is hard to avoid for a cyclist, jogger, roller-skater... According to some studies, as many as 1 in 5 bicycle accidents involve car doors. It’s such a serious problem that it even has its own name: “dooring”.
  • Keep a distance from the cyclists. You are in a giant machine that sounds and looks intimidating. You are going faster. If you get too close to a cyclist, you are creating a dangerous environment. The result can be side-swiping, or the cyclist running off the road out of pure fear.
  • If there is a bike lane and you need to cross it – remember that the cyclist has right-of-way. Don’t just presume they will stop before endangering themselves or you. Stop and let them pass, and signal if you plan to turn well in advance.
  • Right-side rule: if you plan on turning right, twist and check your blind corners before actually doing it. A cyclist an easily get stuck between your car and the side of the street, which can cause some pretty bad issues if you suddenly turn.
  • Do not honk at cyclists! This is an issue most cyclists are very passionate about. We’re not talking about regular honking, to warn somebody of impending danger. No, this is a form of honking that looks like this: a cyclist is pedalling down the road. A car approaches it from behind. The driver of the car decides to honk to let the cyclist know he’s there. He shouldn’t. The cyclist is on a road, so they are reasonably aware there are cars around. Besides, cars make noise (vroom, vroom). Your honking is scary. It makes the cyclist jump. It’s ironic that the horn is your way of saying “don’t be afraid, I’m here” when the effect is more like “hello, I am here to help you die”.

If you have any other suggestions for advice to add to our list, let us know. The CLARA vest is not just a fashion accessory, but a safety device. We’re open to any ideas that help improve on-the-road experiences.

Oh, did you know you can WIN your very own CLARA vest? All you need to do is sign up!

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