How to avoid the cycling equivalent of buying the farm

More advice on dealing with traffic hazards

The Lead Out

Following on from my last post about riding in the rain and not becoming traffic accident statistic, I thought I would cast the net wider and consider what other scenarios, you as a cyclist and a road user should be aware of.

The Breakaway

As a cyclist, the math of car/truck/bus tram vs you should be bleeding obvious to you.  Thus the burden of keeping you alive to cycle another day is on…you.  Be alert to traffic hazards and road-smart when riding.

The Peloton

Here’s the reduced ‘Letterman’ list of cycling situations that can be hazardous to your health.  You should hum the Bee Gee’s 1977 classic “Staying Alive” while reading this.

Beware the Setting Sun Scenario: Most crashes involving cyclists occur on weekdays, in the 2 hours before sunset.  At this time of day, your average motorist’s vision can be impaired by setting sun, heavy traffic flow and fatigue.

Strategy: Wear high visibility clothing and switch on your front and rear lights. Furthermore, keep a buffer zone between you and the traffic.  Pay attention what is happening around you and attempt to predict the actions of motorists.

Argy-Bargy at intersections Scenario: Drivers often claim not to have seen bicycle riders coming through intersections as an explanation for a crash.

Strategy: Try to make eye contact with drivers at intersections to ensure that you are noticed.  Scan the approach to intersections and assess what’s happening in the traffic flow at the intersection.

Dismounting from the footpath  Scenario:  You are moving from the foot/bike path to join the traffic.

Strategy: Two words -> STOP, LOOK.  Stop at a point where can see a few hundred metres of traffic movement.  Importantly don’t leave the path between parked vehicles.  Drivers will not be able to see you.

Vehicles turning in front of you Scenario: Be alert to vehicles that cross in front of you. This could be a vehicle turning left or right into a street or driveway.

Strategy: Pay particular attention to vehicles when you are travelling on the left hand side of a queue.  Frequently, impatient drivers will turn across your path if there is a gap in the queue.

Being Doored Scenario: Avoid crashes caused by opening doors.

Strategy:   My pet hate…. always look through car rear windows to determine whether or not someone is about to leave the car. Parked cars may pull out from the kerb.  Look for clues such as a flash of the brake or reversing lights, right hand indicator or a sign that the car is about to move such as front wheels moving.

Reversing vehicles Scenario: Even in this day of rear vision cameras in vehicle, cyclists can be crunched when a car unexpectedly reverses out of a driveway or parking bay.

Strategy: Kids are very vulnerable to this kind of incident.  As a rule, if you can see the driver, seek to establish eye contact before riding behind the parked vehicle.  Also be on the lookout for reversing lights or alarms.