Bike Safety Diagrams

How to avoid collisions

Real bike safety concerns are more than just wearing a helmet and following the traffic laws for cyclists. Avoiding collisions with motorists should be your number one priority when you are biking on the open road. The following diagrams are provided to help you spot and avoid real-world collisions that are potential hazards to your safety.

Types of collisions:

  • The right-cross collision
  • The door collision
  • The crosswalk collision
  • The wrong-way collision
  • The red light collision
  • The right hook collision

 

The right-cross collision

his is the most common type of bike-car collision according to Bicycling Life and Bicycling Safety. A car is pulling out of a side street, a parking lot or a driveway on the right and fails to see the cyclist approaching.

right cross collision

To avoid:

  1. Get a headlight. If you are riding your bike at night, a headlight is an inexpensive option for allowing motorists to see you and your bike more clearly. (It is also the law.)
  2. Honk. Purchasing an inexpensive (yet, loud) bike horn will allow you to warn motorists that you are approaching.
  3. Slow down. While slowing down or stopping can be inconvenient, it is certainly a better alternative than getting hit! If you cannot make eye contact with the motorist or if you feel as if they do not plan on stopping, go ahead and slow down for your own safety.
  4. Ride further to the left. In the diagram to the right you see two lanes of cyclist traffic. Most cyclists travel in lane A to avoid rear collisions. If you approach a possible right-cross collision scenario, try traveling in lane B. The motorist is more likely to see you in this travel lane or you will give yourself more time to speed up or slow down to avoid the collision.

 

The door collision

The door collision is the second-most common type of bike-car collision according to Bicycling Life and Bicycling Safety. The driver of a car opens his door right in front of you. Unable to stop or slow down in time, you run right into the opened door.

door hit collision

To avoid:

  1. Ride further to the left. You are more likely to collide with an unexpected open door than to be hit from behind by a motorist who can clearly see you. Move over a few feet to the left and you can avoid these unexpected open doors.

 

The crosswalk collision

You are riding your bike on a sidewalk and cross the street at a crosswalk. A car is making a right turn at the cross-street and runs into you. Drivers don’t expect to see cyclists on the sidewalk or in crosswalks and it is hard for them to see into the crosswalk coming from the previous street.

crosswalk collision

To avoid:

  1. Get a headlight. If you are riding your bike at night, a headlight is an inexpensive option for allowing motorists to see you and your bike more clearly. (It is also the law.)
  2. Slow down. While slowing down or stopping can be inconvenient, it is certainly a better alternative than getting hit! If you cannot make eye contact with the motorist or if you feel as if they do not plan on stopping, go ahead and slow down for your own safety.
  3. Don’t ride on the sidewalks. Riding your bike on sidewalks makes you more vulnerable to all types of collisions (crosswalk, a car leaving a parking lot, etc.). Riding on a sidewalk can also threaten pedestrians that use them as well. The best way to avoid these collisions and to avoid hurting pedestrians is to ride your bike on the open roadways.

 

The wrong-way collision

You are riding against traffic on the left-hand side of the road. A car makes a right turn from a side street, parking lot or driveway, right into you. The collision occurred because the motorist checked to the left for oncoming traffic. According to Bicycling Life and Bicycling Safety nearly one-fourth of bike collisions occur because cyclists travel against traffic.

wrong way collision

To avoid:

  1. Don’t ride against traffic! Ride with traffic, in the same direction as motorists.
  2. Plus, riding against traffic is illegal, and you could be ticketed.

 

The red light collision

You stop beside a car on the right-hand side that is already stopped at a red light. When the light turns green, you try to continue straight and the motorist makes a right turn, hitting you at the intersection.

red light collosion

To avoid:

  1. Don’t stop in a motorist’s blind spot. Stop directly behind the car. This helps make you visible to traffic on all sides.
  2. When the light turns green, don’t pass the vehicle, remain behind it.
  3. Never try to pass a car on the right.

 

The right hook collision

A car passes you and then attempts a right turn directly into your path. Motorists tend to think they can “beat out” the cyclist because you are travelling at a slower speed, making this type of collision hard to avoid until the very last second. This type of collision can also happen if you attempt to pass a car (or even another bike) on the right and they make an unexpected right turn.

right hook collision

To avoid:

  1. Don’t ride on the sidewalks. Riding your bike on sidewalks makes you more vulnerable to all types of collisions (crosswalk, a car leaving a parking lot, etc.).
  2. Ride to the left – in the lane. Taking up the whole lane makes it harder for motorists to pass you, and less likely for this type of collision to occur.
  3. Use your mirror. Be sure to look in your mirror well before you reach an intersection or crosswalk to determine if any traffic is behind you.