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Understanding cyclists' speeds can help drivers prevent crashes

In 2018, there were 857 cyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles. As someone who enjoys riding, you know how dangerous it can be, too. You try to plan your routes, but if traffic is busy or a driver is distracted, there is little you can do to avoid those who may run into you.

One of the big issues with cyclists and drivers is that drivers often underestimate how fast cyclists are traveling. Racing bikes, and fit riders, can travel up to 25 mph or higher, depending on where the rider is and the surface conditions. An average cyclist can travel anywhere from 10 to 14 mph, though some travel faster or slower.

While speeds are affected by things like fitness, the quality of the bicycle, age and the conditions on the roads, drivers should be aware that cyclists may not be going slowly enough to stop on a dime. If a driver pulls out in front of them, it may still take the cyclist several feet to stop in an emergency.

Hybrid bicycles pose new risks

Hybrid bicycles are another topic to consider. With a hybrid bicycle, there may be a small electrical engine attached to the bicycle. This helps the rider travel, even if they're not pedaling. That's why a driver shouldn't automatically assume that a cyclist is slowing if they're not pedaling.

Additionally, hybrid bicycles have a slightly higher average speed than the average cyclist. They generally travel at a speed of 11 to 17 mph, which can be just quick enough to pose problems when trying to stop rapidly.

Cyclists have a right to be on the roads, too

Whether a cyclist is using an electric, hybrid or manual bicycle should not make a difference in how drivers treat them. Drivers should always be cautious when they see a cyclist approach or using a bike lane near them. Drivers should give them plenty of room if they decide to pass, and they should be cautious about making right turns when a cyclist was riding beside them.

In cities like Chicago, it's not uncommon to see people riding their bikes to work or to activities. Drivers and cyclists both must be cautious to avoid crashes. Whether you're riding to work or school, events or other places, make sure you wear your helmet and understand the rules of the road. Plan your route, so you have the least risk of being involved in a crash.

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