Whether bike riding for sport or transportation, all cyclists face traffic dangers. However, those riding in more populated areas, are likely to encounter a higher risk of accidents–including those associated with the most common car-bike collisions.
Unfortunately, being part of an accident involving a car and a bike can result in a variety of injuries or even be fatal for any cyclist, no matter where they ride. But for the urban cyclist, the following safety guide may be especially helpful in avoiding bicycle-car accidents.
Stay Clear of the Door Zone :
The best prevention is to steer clear of all cars, especially parked ones. It’s important to leave a door size space, referred to as a door zone, as a cyclist passes another vehicle. Otherwise, once a car door opens, it swings directly into the same path that bicyclists take. However, when a cyclist is forced due to circumstance to squeeze through that ‘door zone’, it is advisable for them to slow down to walking speed and look for warning signs such as brake lights or taxi cab vacancy lights. To avoid getting “doored,” cyclists must always assume that every door passed is a potential threat and keep a safe distance.
Pass behind (not in front of) pedestrians:
Rather than risk who should yield–your bike or the pedestrian up ahead, do not pass in front of one if possible. Otherwise, a game of chicken could ensue where the right-of-way becomes misunderstood and this could perhaps pose an even greater risk to the cyclist.
Beware of the right hook.
Much like an actual hook, this infers to when a car passes a cyclist travelling in the same direction, only to then immediately turn off the road and across the cyclists’ riding path. If you are cycling on the right side of the road, make it a habit to always glance over your left shoulder as you approach an exit ramp, intersection or driveway to avoid being caught in this scenario.
Don’t be shy about using body language; Make Eye Contact
Hand signals become another form of communication with other street users. For example, when planning a lane change or turn, cyclists are encouraged to signal with their entire body if possible—looking over their shoulder, stopping the pedals, and starting to drift in the direction of cars approaching from behind. Depending on how the other cars react and once a cyclist decides that it’s a safe time to move over, then they can put out a hand to signal before doing so. Also, depending on their proximity to others, it’s easier to communicate intentions to motorists and pedestrians through eye contact. Therefore, when possible, urban cyclists may want to avoid wearing dark lenses.