How Can Changing Your Driving Habits Protect Water Quality?

As part of National Bike Month, we here at San Diego Coastkeeper have entered the Bike to Work Corporate Challenge
As part of the challenge, we’re biking to work and are eligible to win prizes as we enjoy the benefits of bike commuting.  How about joining us by biking to work , or better yet, getting your whole company to sign up?

Unfortunately, bike commuting does come with some risk: dangerous drivers.  Many staff members have either been hit or nearly hit while riding our bikes.  Below are some safe-driving tips—inspired by staff members’ experiences—that will help drivers and cyclists commute safely together.  Because when the people protecting water quality get to work safely, we can do our best to protect water quality, which benefits us all!

1.    Use your turn signal. Our Director of Marketing & Communications and our Water Quality Lab Coordinator both cited this as a problem they have had with drivers.  Jamie actually had a driver, without signaling, turn into a fast-food restaurant right in front of her.  Fortunately, she was able to swerve out of the way to avoid a serious accident.  But if the driver had used his signal, she could have slowed down and avoided the near-collision.

2.    Look before opening your car door. Rachel, our Chief Financial Officer, was “doored” by a girl who didn’t check her mirrors or look around before opening her door right on Rachel, who was riding by on her bike.  Poor Rachel was knocked over and suffered some minor injuries, but fortunately avoided any serious injuries.

3.    Stop and look before backing out of a driveway. Our newest staff member, Katelyn, was injured while riding a bike when the driver gunned out of her driveway right into Katelyn. Understandably, Katelyn’s been a little nervous about biking ever since.

4.    Give cyclists some room. Dylan, our Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, was forced off the road and into a parked car by a driver who refused to give him the room he needed—and was entitled to—at the side of the road.

5.    Use caution at intersections, yielding to cyclists who have the right of way. Two-thirds of the Law & Policy Clinic staff was nearly injured by drivers acting dangerously at an intersection. Staff Scientist, Jen, narrowly missed colliding with a little old lady who barreled through a roundabout-style intersection even though Jen was already in the intersection and had the right of way.  I barely avoided an accident when, as I was cycling through an intersection, the driver decided to “cut it close” while making a left-hand turn behind me and was just inches from taking out my back tire. Our Education and Marine Debris Manger had a friend who was seriously injured when the driver, intending to stop at the corner instead of the stop sign, drove out in the cyclist’s path.

Have you been injured or nearly injured while cycling? Are there any tips I missed?  Let’s hear your stories and tips!