Cycling is a dangerous sport, especially if you ride in areas with lots of traffic
You know that feeling when you bike down the street and a car shoots out of nowhere? Well, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be like this. There are tons of ways for us cyclists to keep ourselves safe on the road without sacrificing our enjoyment on two wheels.
Even if you’re new to cycling, there are some easy ways to increase your safety game. This guide covers the best safety tips for cyclists to avoid getting hit by a car.
Most common bike-car accidents
One of your best lines of defense against a car accident is to know the common safety threats. If you know what to look out for, you’ll be aware on the road — which can prevent an injury or even save your life.
Bike-car dooring accidents
“Dooring” is when the driver or passenger of a car opens their door, and a cyclist runs into it. It’s a common accident and the best way to prevent it is to assume that every car door you pass will open. But there are a couple of ways you can tell if the door is probably going to open:
- The car is in park and people are inside
- A taxi cab has its vacancy sign lit
- A parked car is moving as people shuffle towards the door
When you see these red flags, ride with a few feet between you and where you estimate the open door to be. But if you don’t have enough room or can’t do so safely, slow down. This will give you enough time to brake if someone swings the door wide open without looking first.
Cyclists hit by cars on a right turn
It’s hard to make a left turn on a whim, but it’s easy to make a right turn. Tourists who aren’t familiar with the area may jerk the wheel and make a last-minute right turn — and cut across the bike lane. Keep an extra eye out when you’re near:
- Highway exits and entrances
Give yourself plenty of space so you can brake or slow down if need be. Otherwise, you might end up crashing into a car.
Learn and respect local traffic laws
Cyclists have to obey traffic laws because they’re considered vehicles. The rules you have to follow in a car, you have to follow on a bicycle too.
Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your local and state cycling laws to decrease your chances of getting hit by a car on your bike. Here are a few quick tips to get started:
- Pay attention to traffic lights
- Obey stop signs
- Ride in designated bike lanes if possible
- Don’t ride on highways
- Go with the direction of traffic
Quick cycling maneuvers
Another great way to protect yourself from getting hit by a car is to familiarize yourself with your bike and learn some quick moves. The more comfortable you are on your bicycle, the faster you’ll be able to maneuver around dangerous situations.
At slower speeds, you can quick dodge. This is when you turn your wheel abruptly to the right or left, then quickly turn it in the opposite direction.
At faster speeds, you can quick turn. This maneuver is especially helpful when you need to avoid a car that’s turning left or right across your path. First, slightly turn your wheel the opposite direction you need to go — then, turn your wheel the other way. For example, if you need to abruptly turn right, first turn your wheel a little to the left then quickly to the right.
You can also practice the emergency stop to not get hit by a car. Depending on your bicycle model, you probably have front and rear brakes. And your front brakes can stop you faster than your rear ones. But if you pull the front brakes too hard, you risk flipping over the handlebars. So if you need to come to an emergency stop, hit the front brakes and lean backward to keep yourself balanced.
Get comfortable with a track stand. If you’re a road cyclist or commuter cyclist, this will come in handy nearly every time you ride. At stoplights and stop signs, stand up and balance on your pedals. This will keep you stationary, but you won’t have to dismount your ride.
Make yourself as visible as possible
This seems like a common sense tip, but it’s really important. The more visible you are, the less likely it is you’ll be hit by a car. Use these tips the next time you ride:
- Wear brightly colored clothing
- Mount lights on your bike
- Take advantage of reflective clothing, strips, and so on
- Make eye contact with drivers and anyone else you share the road with
- Use hand signals to show drivers where you’re going to go
- Mount bells to alert drivers or pedestrians you might not know are there
Practice awareness every time you ride
When cyclists are aware of their surroundings, they can avoid accidents before they happen. For example, if you ride with headphones and listen to music at high volumes, you might not be aware that an ambulance is approaching from behind.
Alternatively, if you text and cycle at the same time, you risk hitting the car in front of you as they brake. Keep your head up, your eyes open, and your ears alert. This will help you see vehicle doors opening or drivers cutting right sooner, and reduce your chances of getting hit by a car.
Invest in bicycle insurance in case you get hit by a car
Even if you practice every safety tip in this guide, there’s always a risk of getting hit by a car. It’s a very sad but very real truth: accidents happen. And if you wait to invest in a comprehensive bicycle insurance policy until it’s too late, you’ll miss out on things like:
- Liability coverage
- Medical bill payments
- Crash and collision repairs
It’s the last line of defense, and arguably one of the most important. Getting hit by a car is a serious situation that could leave you with thousands in debt if the driver is underinsured, or uninsured.
Protect yourself on the road, or anywhere you ride, with a bicycle insurance policy today. Coverage starts at just $8 a month and the peace of mind is priceless.