Every road rider knows how quickly things can change and that you need to rely on all your bike handling skills to avoid being injured in a bicycle vs automobile accident. At 30 mph a cyclist is traveling at 44 feet per second, and at that speed things happen fast.
Here are the most common road riding accidents and how to avoid them.
The right hook
This is a very common accident. A motorist passes a cyclist on the left and turns right across the bicycle’s direction of travel. This happens because motorists think that because you are riding a bicycle you must be moving slowly, whereas many road cyclists are moving at a speed close to the speed of the traffic.
How to avoid it: Don’t pass slow cars to the right because this puts you in the driver's blind spot. Ride in the traffic lane - it's your right in all 50 states. Taking the traffic lane forces the motorist to stay behind you and wait to make the right turn.
The left cross
A motorist fails to see a cyclist when turning left and drives head on into an oncoming cyclist - this is the most common, and because of the closing speed, often the most devastating type of car vs bicycle accident.
How to avoid it: If you see a car turning into you from your left and you can’t stop make a right turn so you are now headed in the same direction as the car. As soon as it is safe pull to the side of the road and then head back in your original direction.
We’ve all seen it happen: without checking for oncoming traffic, a motorist throws a door open right into the path of a cyclist. This is a ticket offense so make sure the attending police officer knows a law has been broken by the motorist and demand a ticket for the motorist.
How to avoid it: Don’t ride right close to parked cars and if you do, be diligent, watch well ahead for idiot motorists opening a door. If riding 3 feet to the left of parked cars puts you in the traffic lane then ride in the traffic lane - it’s your right in 50 states. Getting doored is far more common than being hit from behind, so don’t stress about riding in the traffic flow.
There’s a lot happening for a motorist exiting a driveway into a traffic lane and the last thing the motorist is looking for is a cyclist. This is a common accident so be wary when riding on a route with multiple parking lot exits.
How to avoid it: You will need all of your bike handling skills to avoid the danger of riding on a road with multiple driveway exits onto the road. The best way to avoid this type accident is to choose a route with no parking lot exits. If your route must take you into this situation, then ride in the traffic lane with the flow of traffic - it’s your right in 50 states. Never, ever, ride on the sidewalk: motorists are not expecting to come across a fast moving rider on the sidewalk.
Getting rear ended
A motorist hits a cyclist from behind. This is a cyclist's worst fear of an accident because you don’t usually see it coming and you won’t have a chance to avoid being hit. Although not the most common type bicycle vs car accident, it is nonetheless a fearful accident.
How to avoid it: Whether riding day or night use at least one strong flashing red LED taillight and headlight. The flashing light draws the attention of motorists and they are more likely to begin paying attention to the cyclist rather than their mobile phone. Wear bright and/or reflective clothing to stand out against the background of other traffic. Make arm signals when changing direction and maintain direction when you check for traffic over your shoulder. Make every possible effort so your presence is known to others using the same roadway.
We hope it never happens but if you are ever hit by a car while riding, there is a few very important things you need to know on what to do if you get hit by a car.