The general tips for bike safety are well known among bike commuters, but there are often dangerous scenarios that arise even when you follow the rules of the road. Unfortunately, some drivers don’t know the laws regarding bikes, they do unexpected things, or simply don’t see you. It’s important to be aware of these scenarios so you can be on the lookout for danger.
While the law requires anyone exiting a car to check for traffic from behind before opening their door, this doesn’t always happen. Riding too close to parked cars can end in a door putting an abrupt stop to your bike ride. Try to avoid a false sense of security that can come with riding in a bike lane. Often times the entirety of the bike lane is in the door zone of parked cars. Ride on the outside edge, or take the lane when necessary to avoid the door zone.
The Right Hook
This is another dangerous situation that can arise even when you follow the rules of the road. You’re riding along minding your own business, and a car passes you only to immediately make a right turn in front of you. The driver assumes you couldn’t be going fast since your on a bicycle, and doesn’t realize they don’t have enough space to turn in front of you. Bonus: sometimes they don’t use a blinker!
You want to keep an eye on anyone who passes you. If there’s an intersection ahead, check for a blinker when a car comes up next to you. Don’t be afraid to take the lane on the approach to an intersection either. This will stop cars from overtaking you and cutting you off. You have every right to use the full lane to ensure your safety. A handlebar or helmet mounted mirror can also help to spot passing cars ahead of time.
The Left Cross
If a car coming from the opposite direction doesn’t see you and makes a left turn, they can block your path or even turn directly into you. I’ve had this happen to me, and there’s little time to react when you’re traveling at top speed. A headlight can do wonders for visibility in this situation if it’s dark, or even a rainy day. Bright colors and reflectors can help as well. Visibility is key.
When coming to an intersection where drivers may turn left in front of you, it’s a good idea to slow down. Try to make eye contact with the oncoming drivers as they will immediately recognize your presence on the road. It’s worth it to lose a few seconds in order to avoid being hit.
The Rear End
While it’s actually not very common, the rear end collision is a common fear of cyclists. You would have no idea it’s coming. While it’s rather unlikely, it is important to be aware of cars coming up behind you. Always ride with a rear light if it’s dark or rainy,and rear reflectors or reflective strips on your bag or jacket can help as well. Try to choose wider streets for your route when possible. That way there is plenty of room for a car to pass even if they don’t see you. A rear view mirror can also help to spot cars coming up behind you, and allow you time to move over if need be.
Be sure to ride safe!