On the road, the law expects cars and bicycles to follow the same rules and responsibilities. However, when a motorist gets into a collision with a bicyclist, the results are typically far from equal. According to the CDC, bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injuries and deaths than motor vehicle occupants when they collide.
Whether you ride your bike for fun or as your primary form of transportation, it’s imperative to know how car-bicycle accidents happen to reduce your risk of getting into a collision. Below are four common causes of bicycle accidents and what you can do to stay safe on your bike.
Cars aren’t the only vehicle that’s vulnerable to getting rear-ended. Unfortunately, cyclists getting struck from behind by a motor vehicle in traffic is all too common – typically because the driver failed to see the cyclist in front of them.
To ensure you don’t get rear-ended, there are a few precautions you can take to protect yourself. Wearing reflective gear and using reflectors and lights on your bicycle can help you stay visible. You should also consider adding a mirror to your bike so you can see what’s behind you while riding.
The right hook
Another common car-bicycle collision occurs when a motorist makes a right turn into the cyclist’s lane of travel. Intersections can be especially dangerous for bicyclists if they are in a driver’s blind spot or the driver isn’t paying attention to the road.
In addition to wearing reflective gear for visibility, cyclists should practice taking up the entire lane when riding in traffic. Riding in the center of the lane rather than off to the side will ensure you don’t disappear in a blind spot and makes drivers have to pass you deliberately, so you remain seen.
The left turn
While motorists are required to yield for the right of way to bicyclists, sometimes they misjudge an oncoming bike’s speed or fails to see them in the opposite lane. This can result in the motorist making a left turn into the cyclist’s path.
When crossing the street, always scan ahead for several seconds to look for oncoming cars hidden by traffic, trees or parked cars. Also, remember not to ride your bike on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for pedestrians and can make it more difficult for drivers to see you coming.
The open door
Moving cars aren’t the only potential danger on the road for cyclists. Often, accidents will occur when a driver or passenger opens their car door into the bicyclist’s path.
When riding your bike near parked cars, always be scanning ahead several feet ahead and look for movement inside the vehicles to anticipate someone getting out. You should also be sure not to ride too close to the curb. Riding in the center of your lane can give you the space you need to ride safely.
Accidents aren’t always avoidable, but you can take actions to safeguard yourself when you ride in traffic. By staying mindful of the risks and riding vigilantly, you can safely and responsibly share the road with other vehicles.