As more people come to appreciate the health and environmental benefits of bicycling, drivers are giving it at least some begrudging respect.
But don’t assume this means cyclists are necessarily safer.
Both drivers and cyclists need to remain alert to coexist. Watch out for the most common car-hits-bike scenarios so that you don’t become another statistic.
Dedicated bike lanes are on the rise, and educational efforts are spreading the word about how drivers and cyclists can successfully share the road. Bicycles are an inexpensive way to get around campus and college towns. But defensive riding is essential.
Here are a few more specifics about which situations result in the most accidents.
Cars Turning Left
Unsurprisingly, intersections are major danger zones. While drivers learn the rules of the road when they get their licenses, the rights of bicyclists get short shrift.
In this situation, when a cyclist is planning to proceed straight through the intersection, a car approaching from the opposite direction might decide to turn left—across the cyclist’s path. You can guard against collisions by:
- Staying in the middle of their lane to clearly indicate that you will be proceeding straight ahead. If you’re too far right, motorists might assume you’re turning right.
- Staying hyper-alert about the traffic approaching from all directions.
- In the worst case, braking or swerving. It can minimize the impact from the car, but be aware that it can also create complications for other vehicles.
Cars Turning Right
This scenario is especially frightening because it cuts down significantly on a cyclist’s time to react. You’ve experienced plenty of cars impatient to pass you on the left—so impatient, in fact, that they might speed up and realize their right turn is coming up too quickly.
The result: the driver cuts you off, and you smack right into them. What’s your best strategy? Try:
- Staying in the main lane instead of edging into the right turn lane. Ideally, the driver will understand that they can use the right lane to pass you and turn right.
- Bracing for any car that’s passing you on the left. As soon as you realize they’re going to turn right in front of you, try to turn right with them so as to lessen the impact.
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Did a shudder go down your spine? No one would blame you. When a parked car suddenly swings open its door, a passing cyclist is likely to suffer significant injuries.
Slamming into a door can lead to broken bones, a bounce into busy traffic, and a ride to the ER. This common car-hits-bike scenario is easy to forget about on a pleasant bike ride, but you can do your best to avoid it by:
- Leaving about four feet between you and any parked vehicles if possible.
- Slowing down with your hands on the brakes so that you’re ready to halt.
- Using the sidewalk briefly until you’re out of the danger zone.
Image Credit: by twenty20.com
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