As Omaha shakes off the chill of winter and welcomes the dawn of spring, we are beginning to see the kind of weather that makes us want to jump on our bikes and ride. With more people on bikes hitting the road, it’s a good time to review safe cycling and driving practices to keep everyone safe while sharing the road.
First, we encourage all people on bikes to ride to their level of comfort. If you don’t feel safe on the street, no worries. Omaha has an expanding system of trails for people to walk and cycle. Some people feel more comfortable riding on sidewalks. In Omaha it is legal to ride on sidewalks, except in the Old Market. A good rule of thumb, however, is to ride no faster than a pedestrian can move. Speeding down sidewalks on a bike can be dangerous, especially with driveways and intersections where people in cars aren’t looking for, or expecting, a fast moving person on a bike in the pedestrian space.
Also, a quick reminder: when sharing a space (such as a trail or sidepath) with people walking and people on bikes, always make sure to give a voiced notice when passing. A quick, “on your left!” will avoid startling someone unaware of your presence.
If you choose to ride a bike or drive a car in the road with other traffic, we would like to remind you of our shared rights and responsibilities. When acting as a vehicle, a person on a bicycle is obliged to observe the same rules of the road as person driving an automobile or operating a motorcycle. This means obeying all signs and signals and indicating your turns and braking. For people on bikes, there are some special additional responsibilities. Unless you are riding on a road with sharrows or signage indicating that cyclists can use the full lane, Nebraska state law requires you ride as far right in the lane as is safe to do. Traffic law requires people on bikes to ride single file when riding on a highway.
A special note to people driving cars, the law in Nebraska is that you must allow at least three feet between the car and the person on a bike. If there is not room to do so, you must wait until there is room to overtake the person on a bike safely.
As warmer weather and sunny skies beckon us to head outside, please keep these safety tips in mind and make sure you’re doing your part to keep everyone on the road safe. Enjoy your 3’ Season — we hope to see you out there.