May is National Bike Month, so it’s the perfect time for a refresher on bicycle safety. Before you head out to enjoy the fresh air in Las Vegas this spring, make sure your bike is ready for the road and review the laws every bicyclist should know. It’s also important for drivers to remember that more bicyclists than usual could be on the roads this May, so keep the state’s “Three Foot Rule” in mind whenever you encounter cyclists on your travels.
Nevada’s “Three Foot Rule”
The state of Nevada passed the Three Foot Rule in 2011, and the law stipulates that a driver must allow for three feet of space as he or she passes a cyclist on the road. If possible, the driver should move into the adjacent left lane if one is available and free of traffic to allow the cyclist plenty of room. This law exists to prevent injuries to cyclists from passing traffic. Cars move much faster than bicycles, and bicyclists have very little protection in the event of an accident. Nevada’s Three Foot Rule helps cyclists avoid injuries and helps drivers avoid significant legal penalties.
A first-time violation of the Three Foot Rule can lead to a misdemeanor charge, fines up to $275, and possible driver’s license suspension. State law enforcement officers expect both drivers and cyclists to understand the Three Foot Rule as well as the other traffic laws in the state, and there are many Three Foot Rule violations each year. Nevada lawmakers hope that this new rule reduces the number of fatal bicycle accidents in the state. According to the National Highway Transportation Administration, Las Vegas ranks third of 32 American metropolitan cities for bicyclist fatalities per million residents. In 2017, nine bicyclists died in Nevada, and seven of those deaths took place in Clark County.
Tips for Drivers and Bicyclists
It’s essential for drivers to use good judgment on the road, especially with cyclists nearby. If a driver passes a cyclist too closely it can be startling, causing the cyclist to fall or swerve and suffer injuries. Drivers should also yield when it is not possible to pass a cyclist to prevent injuries. Bicyclists can proactively prevent accidents by planning routes in advance and sticking to bicycle-friendly streets.
Bicyclists must remember they are subject to the same traffic laws as drivers of motor vehicles. Always signal for lane changes or whenever you intend to turn, and ride with the flow of traffic. Although some bicyclists may find it unnerving for adjacent traffic to flow from behind, doing so maximizes the cyclist’s visibility to nearby drivers. When traveling against the flow of traffic, drivers ahead may easily see you, but drivers turning onto your lane of traffic won’t be expecting to see a bicyclist coming opposite the flow of traffic.
It’s also important for both drivers and cyclists to stay vigilant for changing road conditions, especially at night. Bicyclists should wear reflective clothing and have reflectors attached to their bikes for nighttime rides. These will help increase visibility to other drivers. Drivers should pay close attention to their speed as well as road lights and other hazards that can make it difficult to judge the distance between a vehicle and a nearby cyclist.
When bicycle accidents happen, there is a very high chance of severe injuries as well as expensive property damage. If you find yourself in such an accident, contact the police immediately and seek medical attention. A reliable Las Vegas personal injury lawyer can help an injured cyclist recover compensation for medical bills and pain and suffering after an accident with a negligent driver.