6 Ways You’ll Get Hit on Your Bicycle

Zackees
Zackees
Jul 13, 2016 · 5 min read

The most dangerous place to be on a bicycle is on the road with cars, but not for the reason you think.

The dangers of cycling are being discussed on Medium with articles like:

The Myth

These articles paint the picture that you are likely to be killed on a bicycle. That’s simply untrue.

It’s understandable. Cyclists feel like they are at the mercy of drivers. An afterthought of city planning that puts motorists first, at the cost of their lives.

The Reality

The bigger risk, and the one that’s not being talked about is accidents that result in injuries. Injuries limit people’s ability to work and live, and they are 70% more likely to occur. They can lead to life-long pain and medical costs, plus limited capabilities.

It’s important to address the real dangers because only then can you protect against them.

Cycling accidents are not unavoidable. There will always be drivers and cyclists that drive recklessly. But many accidents involving cars can be avoided by being prudent and by signaling the attention of the driver.

To do that we must first understand the types of accidents and how they happen.

Source: John Forester, “Effective Cycling, Seventh Edition,” APR 2012.

Here are how each of these scenarios play out and how to prevent them.

Oncoming Left Turn

Probability: 26%

Description: A driver in the opposite lane makes a left turn, cutting you off or hitting you.

Cause: A driver gets distracted checking for oncoming traffic and pedestrians at an intersection and either doesn’t notice you or forgets you are there.

Prevention: Wave your hand and try to make eye contact with the driver, and signal the driver that you are moving forward.

This is a great use for for a headlamp. Blinking lights are a something that drivers are on the lookout for.

Right Hook

Probability: 23%

Description: You are at an intersection and the car beside you forgets you exist and right-turns into you

Cause: A driver gets distracted checking for oncoming traffic and pedestrians at an intersection and forgets that you are there beside them.

Prevention: Wave your hand in front of the driver’s line of sight, look back and make eye contact.

Stick your arm out in front of a car. You will be line-of-sight in front of a car, unavoidably obvious.

Stop/Signal

Probability: 16%

Description: A car stops suddenly or turns without signalling

Cause: A driver is driving recklessly or irresponsibly

Prevention: It’s hard to prevent this one; you cannot predict other people’s reckless behavior. Be aware of the cars around you and try to notice when one changes speed or direction.

This is a great use for a headlamp and disk brakes. Drivers are looking for headlamps behind them when they stop. Disk brakes allow you to stop on a dime. If a driver appears to be turning into you, simply stick your hand out and signal them and they will back off.

Driveway Yield

Probability: 15%

Description: A driver speeds out of a driveway

Cause: The driver is not looking or cannot see you behind them

Prevention: Slow down and give the driver the right of way. The Driver cannot see well and does not expect a cyclist to cut them off.

This is a great use for a headlamp. Drivers are looking for headlamps when they pull out.

Door

Probability: 12%

Description: The door of a parked car

Cause: Person in car opens the door abruptly into the lane in front of you

Prevention: It’s hard to prevent this one; it’s a game of chance. The best you can do is to be mindful of recently parked cars. Drive slowly, try to look into the back window of parked cars, ring your bell, and turn towards the parked car if there is traffic in the lane to your left.

Overtaking

Probability: 7%

Description: Your body or elbow gets hit by the rear view mirror or another part of a car when it is passing you

Cause: A car passes too close as you are riding on the side of the road

Prevention: Signal the driver with your hand to show the space you need. When the car passes, tuck your elbows in.

Stick your arm out in front of a car. You will be line-of-sight in front of a car, unavoidably obvious.

Conclusion

Many of these accidents are the result of one of several things:

  • A driver does not have clear vision
  • A driver is not aware of a cyclist
  • A driver gets distracted

Drivers are trained to see lights, even during the daytime. Having bright lights on your bicycle will help tremendously in keeping you safely visible. Cars are required to be lit up on the road, you should be too. Having turn signals that are above your waist (visible from the passenger window of a car) is even better.

In situations where a driver simply cannot see effectively, it is important to slow down and be prepared to stop on a dime. You cannot predict another person’s actions and they likely do not expect you to be there.

Good luck out there. We don’t want you to end up as a Medium article!

Zackees

Written by

Zackees

We makes electronic wearables, including life-saving Turn Signal Cycling Gloves. http://zackees.com

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