When drivers and cyclists share the road in San Francisco

There are solutions to the mistakes that many drivers and cyclists make when they share the roads.

Many people ride bicycles in San Francisco, whether to work or for regular transportation, exercise or enjoyment. With cars in the picture, however, this mode of transportation can be dangerous. As an example, a single evening in June 2016 saw two separate bicyclist fatalities that could have been prevented, according to KQED News. Both cyclists were hit by cars that were speeding, and in both crashes, the driver took off. One of the drivers was later detained after he hit a parked car. Since 2011, 15 bicyclists have been killed in the city. Thus, it is important for drivers and cyclists to work together to safely share the roads.


Patience really is a virtue when it comes to sharing the road, as Zipcar.com explains. For example, drivers may be frustrated that bicyclists are slowing them down or apparently cutting them off. Cyclists have their share of frustrations too; drivers who do not understand the cyclists’ hand signals or who give them no room whatsoever raise anger. Often, the best thing someone can do in such situations is to be patient, to take deep breaths and to say something like, “This, too, shall pass.” Learning common cyclist hand signals also helps.


For drivers, staying aware does not just mean staying off cellphones or refraining from personal grooming while driving, although those certainly help. It also means, for instance, that drivers should avoid “dooring” cyclists by checking that the vicinity is clear before opening their car doors. On the other hand, cyclists should be hyper-aware when approaching a car that has just parked, and of course, avoid temptations such as using cellphones while pedaling.

Cyclists should also be aware that they will always be the loser in a collision between a bike and a vehicle, especially a large one. Insisting on your right of way, particularly on crowded city streets, is a recipe for disaster. Remain aware that vehicle drivers are often as frustrated as you are, and perhaps more distracted than a cyclist. We have had too many cases where a cyclist was run over by a truck or bus with fatal consequences. Be Aware!

Lastly, understand why motorists become frustrated by cyclists, and motorists need to be more sensitive to why cyclists become frustrated with motorists. At trial, we see that the average juror is frustrated with and angry with cyclists. They claim we ignore traffic signals, intentionally “hog” the road, and engage in dangerous behavior, and therefore get what we deserve. While these stereotypes are untrue and in fact dangerous, Riders who intentionally aggravate drivers, particularly at events like “critical mass”, make it more difficult for the rest of us who ride, and for those who do get injured to get justice. We all must take responsibility for how the public perceives us.


Basic safety is an essential part of sharing the road, explains Honkforhelp.com. Drivers should ensure their cars are in good shape, and they should wear seat belts, not drink while driving, and the like. Cyclists, too, need to keep their bicycles in good shape, wear helmets and ensure they are visible; reflective lights at night are one way to do this.

Safety, though, goes further than the above-mentioned measures. A cyclist’s behavior can be unpredictable for drivers because they do not have enough experience with cyclists, or the cyclists are new to the road. In any case, to be safe, drivers need to signal early, slow down, and in short, make their intentions known in plenty of time to avoid possibly causing personal injuries such as broken bones, paralysis, traumatic brain injury, back injuries or worse. Likewise, cyclists need to keep their eyes out for turn signals to prevent mishaps such as crossing into a car as it makes a turn.

Both cars and bicycles will remain popular in Northern California. It is imperative that they share the road safely, and when drivers wrongfully hurt cyclists, cyclists or their families should speak with a bicycle attorney from The Cartwright Law Firm to ensure they receive fair compensation. If you or a loved one has been hurt due to the negligence of another, do not hesitate to contact us today at (415) 433-0444 for a free case consultation.