Tips for sharing the road with cyclists

As many of you may already be aware, quarantines have been put in place throughout the country to inhibit the further spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, this has also suspended if not severely limited mass transportation. Now, as more and more localities shift to the General Community Quarantine, some industries have been allowed to operate again at different levels of capacities.

This means that more people will be able to head back to work. Since mass transport will be operating at a reduced capacity during the GCQ, many commuters have switched to commuting on bicycles to avoid the crowds and inevitable delays with mass transport. The government has even encouraged this, deploying bicycle lanes in some areas to keep cyclists safe.

As their numbers are expected to grow even further, the chances of encountering them on the road will be higher. So too are the chances for an accident if we're not careful. As motorcycle riders, it's part of our responsibility to ensure we offer them as much courtesy as we do our fellow riders.

After all, many of these cyclists we encounter may be new to riding on the road. They're just making the best of a bad situation and it would be prudent to give them some slack and space.

Below, we have compiled 5 basic rules to keep in mind every time you see a cyclist on the road:

Keep 1-meter distance

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The rule of thumb is to give every cyclist at least 1-meter distance in all directions. Huwag pinahan (Don't ride too close) as this may intimidate them, confuse them, or worse, force them to commit a mistake which may lead to an accident. By leaving a 1-meter gap between us and them, we give them a lot of room to maneuver without running the risk of colliding with each other. Who knows? They could be trying to avoid a pothole or debris on the road just as we are about to pass them. It also ensures no part of our bike snags them as we pass. This could save you an expensive bill if you happen to collide with one of the more expensive bicycles out there.

Anticipate their next move

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With motorcycle riders being the faster of the two vehicles, we're in a better position to anticipate and avoid cyclists if the unpredictable happens. As such, keep your eye on them in order to anticipate their next move and possibly avoid an accident. Observe where their head is facing, what they're looking at, or if there is an obstacle in front of them. Are they suddenly cupping their pockets looking for something? They may suddenly stop soon, realizing they forgot something. These clues may indicate they are about to turn or swerve a few lanes.

Some of those cycling may be newbies. As such, they may not be familiar with some of the rules of the road are, such as the proper lane and position to be in before turning, or how to signal when changing a lane. Some may be more experienced and may even use hand signals to say they're about to turn or change lanes. Keeping an eye on them to anticipate their move will quickly clue you into their riding skill.

Always let them go first

Unlike motorized vehicles where a motor takes care of all the work for us, a cyclist only has his or her padyak power or legs to propel the bicycle. That being said, it takes a lot of energy to keep a bicycle's momentum going. As such, if you're about to change lanes, turn, or cross an intersection while you're beside, just behind, or just a meter or two ahead of a cyclist, better to let them pass first before you change lanes or turn.

For one, it's easier for motorcycles to stop in a shorter distance thanks to our hydraulic brakes and the pull of a lever. Bicycles on the other hand may still be using cable or horseshoe brakes which may not slow a bike down as quickly or efficiently. They'll appreciate the gesture and the effort you save them, rather than cutting them off and forcing them to pedal from a standstill again.

Beep to let them know you're there

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Bicycles are not required to have side mirrors like cars and motorcycles are. Additionally, pedaling — especially uphill — takes a lot of focus. Keeping that in mind, they might not always be aware you're nearby or behind them. Before passing, slow down and let them know you're there. Don't assume they know. After all, the shoulder-check is not a required skill for cycling.

Instead, make sure they know you're there by pressing the horn briefly to let out a short beep or two. Do not use a long beep; just a quick beep like what we usually use when we see a fellow rider on the road. This lets cyclists know in a courteous way that you're nearby. In some cases, they may even pull over to the side to give you room to pass.

Finally, always overtake on the left. Overtaking on the right is dangerous no matter who your are passing, whether car, motorcycle or cyclist.

Give them a wave

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If the motorcycle community has the peace sign as the symbol of solidarity, cyclists on the other hand will definitely appreciate some form of acknowledgment on the road. A peace sign goes a long way too for our cyclist brothers and sisters. It fosters goodwill and lets them know we mean them no harm.

Some days, there are cars that treat motorcycle riders like second-class citizens, by cutting us off or ignoring our beeps or turn signals. But that doesn't give us the right to push our weight around bicycles. We're all just making the best of our situation. Who knows? They could be riders in the future too.