Letter: While driving, keep eye out for bicyclists

Editor,

With more inviting weather, more bicyclists will be on the road in the coming months. I’d like to highlight some safety practices for sharing the road with cyclists, including a change that many drivers may not be aware of.

As of Oct. 1, bicyclists are no longer required to come to a full stop at stop signs in Washington state.

RCW 46.61.190 allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. This does not mean that cyclists can barrel through every stop sign irrespective of traffic.

If a vehicle has the right-of-way at an intersection, the cyclist must yield.

If no vehicles are present at a stop sign, a cyclist does not need to stop.

If you are following or driving beside a cyclist approaching a stop sign, don’t assume he or she will come to a full stop. This is especially important if you’re planning to turn to the right in front of the cyclist.

The most dangerous interactions on the road are when a person doesn’t do what others on the road are expecting.

Someone who turns without having signaled that turn, or who suddenly slows or stops without warning, or who changes lanes unexpectedly makes the situation dangerous for everyone. Let others on the road know if you’ll be changing direction or stopping, whether you’re in a car or on a bike.

And don’t assume a cyclist will stop at a stop sign at an empty intersection.

If you’re driving toward a bicyclist with your high beam headlights on, the cyclists may either be temporarily blinded by your lights or having to look to the side or down to prevent being blinded.

Either way, they’re in great danger of not seeing a pothole, branch or other hazard on the road. Or even a pedestrian. Cyclists have no way to signal to you to dim your lights and cannot always safely come to a stop until you pass.

Please dim your lights just as you would for an approaching car.

Let’s keep our roads as safe as possible for all users.

Follow the rules but also be considerate. Treat others on the road as though they were all dear friends.

They just might be.

Nancy Hepp

Clinton

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