Top Crash Situations to Avoid While Bicycling
There are few things more serene than riding a bicycle outdoors… that is, until
you’re swerving out of the way of car doors, dodging angry motorists, or
dreading the busy intersection that separates you from work. Bikes can be just
as wonderful as they are frightening, so it is vital that you prepare before you
step off. While there’s no way to stop a careless motorist, here are some
situations you can actively avoid and prepare for.
1) The Right Cross
You’re riding along when, suddenly, a car appears from your right
from another street or driveway. Before you even have time for colorful
language to escape your lips, you’re swerving out of the way, running into their
driver’s side door, or getting nipped in the back of the bike by their bumper.
This is the most common crash bicyclists face. While there are some
situations that are impossible to avoid, the majority of them can be skirted
with caution. Especially for nightriders, investing in a headlight is key to alert
cars of your presence before your full bike is in view. Riding at a slower speed
in known problem areas is also a good way to increase your reaction time.
And, most of all, be sure to err on the side of caution and ride further to the
left from the curb than you might normally consider. Despite what the guiding
lines of most bike lanes say, giving yourself more room is always an option.
2) The Door Slam
It’s a cliché seen in many-a-movie before — you’re riding you bike
down a lane of parked cars when, out of nowhere, a driver sitting in their car
opens their door right in front of you, leaving you no option but to run straight
As impossible as the chances might seem, this is one of the second
most common crash types in a variety of US cities. To
, be wary of
parked vehicles and be sure to give yourself room to avoid the car door
it’s opened by surprise. Just assume that every parked car has a person sitting
in the driver’s seat, ignorant of their surroundings and just waiting for the
perfect chance to Pling their door open. Like most crashes, predicting the
outcome before it’s a possibility can prevent it from happening altogether. A
good rule of thumb is that if you can reach out and touch the side-mirror of a
parked car, you’re riding too close.
3) The Crosswalk Collision
You’re riding along the sidewalk when you get to a crosswalk to
cross the street. An oncoming driver, looking to turn onto this same street
you’re crossing, doesn’t know to look for a bicycle and crashes into the side of
Drivers are rarely faced with a situation where they need to be
aware of fast-moving objects on sidewalks. Especially when it comes to
bicycles, drivers are generally more trained to notice cyclists on the road. As a
general rule of thumb, it is best to avoid riding your bicycle on the sidewalk to
avoid this predicament altogether. In fact, bicyclists who use the sidewalk are
more than twice as likely to get into an accident than those who use the street.
4) The Right Hook
You’re happily riding along the road when a car/truck/motorcycle/
unicyclist/bicyclist tries to make a right turn, not noticing you are there.
Whether they turn
of you (causing you to hit their side) or they turn
you (colliding with your side) neither result makes for happy riding.
As with the majority of crashes,
always ride more to the left.
always best to give yourself more riding room and reaction time than to force
yourself to align with the curb. Be sure to make frequent use your handlebar
mirrors as well (which are extremely necessary) to keep yourself out of
potentially sticky situations like these. And, as a general rule, be sure to never
pass opposing vehicles on the right — this delves into blindspot territory and
threatens to leave you regretting the attempt.
5) The Wrong Way Crash
You’re riding against trafPic when (similar to a Right Cross) a car
emerges from another street or driveway, cutting you off or colliding with your
All jokes aside — please,please
never ride your bike against the
Flow of traffic. In situations like these, drivers emerging from cross-streets or
driveways are not used to looking in the opposing direction for oncoming
traffic. It can also lead to higher speed crashes, limited maneuverability, or a
ticket (seeing as riding against trafPic is legitimately against the law). Seriously.
Please don’t do this.
6) The Rear End
You’re riding your bicycle on a normal two-way street, when you
swerve slightly to the left to avoid another parked car or obstruction in the
road. Not expecting this move, the driver behind you crashes into your bicycle.
Always be sure to stay as aware as possible of your surroundings. If
this means riding slightly more to the left (am I getting repetitive here?) to
avoid potential hazards down the line, ferociously checking your mirror, or
even getting off of your bike to walk it to the sidewalk, then be sure to do so. If
you are ever moving further into the middle of the road, you need to know
exactly what is behind you before you do so. Signaling is also vital in alerting
other drivers of your actions, so be sure to brush up on your
Finally, avoid weaving in and out of parking lanes, as drivers will not be
expecting you to merge back onto the road.
*This article was provided by Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com)
and was not written by a legal professional, so be sure to check with
your local police department to ensure that you follow any local cycling