Advice for Road Users

Safety on the roads comes first. Whether you are riding a bicycle, operating a motor vehicle, or travelling on two feet, please put your safety first by always staying alert and obeying the law. This advice will help you know what to do to stay safe on your next ride or as you see cyclists while driving a motor vehicle.

Bicycles

Bicyclists have the same rights as motor vehicle drivers on roadways. Along with this right comes the responsibility to obey the same laws as other drivers. Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.

Understanding these basic concepts will help reduce the conflicts between motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians:

  • Obey traffic signals and signs.

  • As a vehicle, bicycles must obey all rules of the road. Cyclists have the same privileges and duties as drivers of other vehicles.

  • Do not ride on sidewalks.

  • Riding on a sidewalk is not only illegal in Huntsville; it is also the most dangerous place to ride as motor vehicles don’t see you, making crossing intersections even more dangerous. A number of bike-car crashes have occurred because the cyclist was riding on a sidewalk.

  • Ride to the right in a straight line.

  • Ride as far to the right as is practicable, but stay far enough from the curb to avoid hazards. There is a difference between as far right as “possible” and as far right as “practicable.” “Possible” is defined as within the available means, i.e. the furthest right which permits forward travel. “Practicable” means what is safe and reasonable. Ride in a straight line about three feet from the curb and watch out for cars backing out of driveways or entering the road.

  • Remember: three feet to pass.

  • Motorists passing bicycles should give three feet of clearance. Three feet of clearance is also recommended for bicyclists when passing moving or stopped cars or bicycles.

  • Communicate with others on the road.

  • Signal your turns and lane changes and make eye contact.

  • Scan the road ahead.

  • Always be aware of debris, grates, and holes in the road. Watch for turning cars and pedestrians at intersections. Watch for cars pulling out of driveways, alleys, or parking spaces, as well as drivers opening doors of parked cars.

If you would like to learn more, visit the Bicycling 101 page.

Motor Vehicles

Drivers with poor behaviors pose serious risks to bicyclists on the road, and sometimes, the consequences can be deadly. As bicycle awareness increases and encourages more bicyclists and pedestrians to travel by bicycle, motorists should keep informed of how to safely handle their vehicles when encountering a cyclist on the roads.

The number of bicycle and motor vehicle collision-related accidents reported to the Huntsville Police Department between the years 2000 and 2005 totaled more than 80 incidents. An in-depth analysis revealed that most of the accidents occurred during the summer months at the peak traffic hours of 3:00 pm through 9:00 pm.

Drivers – please be aware!

Follow these safety tips when you encounter a cyclist traveling on the road:

  • Treat cyclists as you would any other vehicle on the road.

  • It’s the law!

  • Expect cyclists to use the full lane.

  • Cyclists may abruptly change lane position due to railroad tracks, debris, potholes, or grates. This is for their safety and yours.

  • Cyclists rarely delay motorists.

  • Cyclists just rearrange the delays already built into the system. Slow down – it could save a life.

  • Do NOT drive “side by side” or follow a cyclist too closely.

  • When backing out of driveways, scan behind you for bicyclists on the street or sidewalk.

  • Pass cyclists with a minimum of three feet.

  • Allow for plenty of room.

  • Scan traffic intersections for cyclists.

  • Bicyclists may be on the road or sidewalk.

  • NEVER pass cyclists and immediately turn right.

  • Do NOT honk, yell, or otherwise harass cyclists.

  • It is dangerous.

  • SCAN behind you.

  • Scan the road and sidewalks for bicyclists. Always scan before opening a door, especially if you are parked parallel to the street.

If You Are Involved in a Crash

Follow the following steps if you are involved in an accident:

  • Stop immediately.

  • It’s against the law to leave the scene of a crash without identifying yourself and giving assistance.

  • Help anyone injured.

  • If needed, call 911.

  • Ask witnesses to identify themselves.

  • Get Information.

  • If a motor vehicle is involved, record the driver’s name, phone number, insurance information, a description of the car, and a license plate number.

  • Call the Police.

  • All crashes involving a motor vehicle that result in injury or property damage exceeding $1,000 must be reported to the police. If those involved, do not require emergency treatment, please call 256-722-7100 to report the crash.

  • Report Crashes and Falls.

  • Other crashes or falls should be reported to the Police to protect the legal rights of victims and to aid public officials in identifying and correcting crash causes. Please call 256-722-7100, to report these crashes or falls. Program this number into your cell phone for easy reference if these situations occur.