Top 5 Crash Situations to Avoid While Bicycling

Every year, the US Department of Transportation gathers more information about bicy-cle riding crash statistics. While this information may look scary at first to a bicyclist, it is actually vital in helping keep you safe. In fact, cyclists like you are safer and more in-formed now than ever because of information like this.

With the right preparation, you can make sure each bicycle ride is a safe and fun one. Continue below to learn the top 5 most common crash situations that bicyclists encoun-ter, and how you can avoid them in the future.

1) The Left Cross

Say you’re riding your bicycle down the street. You come to an intersection (or even just cross a small side street) when a car coming the other direction makes a left turn onto the road you’re crossing. This can result in a crash if the car comes in contact with the side of your bike, or cuts you off at the front. The sudden approach can also cause you to make a shocked maneuver out of your path and into a tree, wall, fence, or another car.

To avoid this situation:

• Stay as noticeable as possible. Wear bright gear (helmets, clothing, shoes, etc.) and make sure you ride out in the open where cars can easily notice you. Staying easily visible is a good tip for protecting yourself from almost all crashes, so it’s espe-cially important!

• Stay aware of your surroundings. Try not to ride your bicycle while listening to mu-sic or otherwise distracting yourself from riding. When other cars don’t notice you, it will be your job to notice them first and take preventative measures.

2) The Right Hook

Suppose you’re riding along when a car passes you on the left. At your next intersec-tion, without notice, the car makes a right turn either in front of you or into the side of your bike. Especially when the car doesn’t use a blinker, this can be quite unexpected.

To avoid this situation:

• Give yourself and other cars lots of space. Many crashes can be avoided with even just a bit more reaction time. This space will give you that time to keep from run-ning into a car that cuts you off with a turn.

• Never pass on the right. Sometimes, this crash can be caused because a bicyclist tries to pass a car without noticing they will be turning. To keep this from happening to you, never pass on the right. Cars will have a very hard time noticing you, so it isn’t worth the risk.

3) The Car Door

Say you’re riding by a row of parked cars when a car door seems to appear out of no-where. The car ahead of you, which seemed to be unoccupied, contains a driver that just begins to exit without noticing you coming. Without proper reaction time, this can result in an unexpected crash.

To avoid this situation:

• Be wary of even seemingly harmless situations. Many people would assume that parked cars don’t pose a threat to their safety. Most of the time, they are right. Howev-er, the few times where they are wrong can result in a crash. Play it safe and try to avoid routes near parked cars, especially during school pick-up/drop-off times and lunch hours.

• Ride further to the left. Many bicyclists are wary of riding further left and potentially out of their bike lane. However, this is a very safe and suggested option when riding near potential hazards. While it isn’t recommended that you suddenly swerve left into the path of traffic to avoid a problem, riding consistently more left can help you and other drivers stay in each other’s sights.

4) Sideswipes/Rear-Ends

Suppose you are riding your bike when a car comes up unexpectedly behind or beside you. Maybe they are preparing for a turn and call it too close, nipping the back of your bike. Maybe they try to pass you on the left and clip the side of your bike. Or, maybe they just have trouble seeing you altogether because of a wide turn or low lighting.

To avoid this situation:

• Invest in a side mirror. Side mirrors can not only help you see what is behind and beside you, but they can give you peace of mind. Knowing that you don’t have a blind side anymore can help reduce stress and improve the quality of your ride.

• Use reflectors and headlights/taillights. Nighttime is more dangerous for all vehi-cles simply because of the lack of light. Help improve the conditions for both yourself and other drivers by placing reflectors or reflective tape along your bike, and using simple taillights or headlights to illuminate the roads.

5) Environmental Hazards

Say you’re on your normal cycling route when you turn a corner and encounter a fallen tree caused by a storm late last night. Without time to properly prepare (and without ex-pecting a change in your routine) you are unable to keep yourself from crashing into the tree. Other hazards like potholes, debris blown into the street, or icy roads can also cause problems.

To avoid this situation:

• Check your weather and route before every ride. Preparation is key to staying safe while on the road. First and foremost, always know exactly where you’re going before you ride, so you can look up potential construction or road hazards that need avoiding. If the weather looks like it may be an issue, consider taking an alternative mode of transportation that day. Or, at least be certain you and your bike are properly equipped for the conditions.

This article was provided by, an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Noth-ing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally.

Eric Minghella
Outreach Specialist
Personal Injury Law

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