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Bicycle Safety Tips: Avoid Getting Hit by Cars
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Bicycle Safety Tips: Avoid Getting Hit by Cars

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  • 1. How NOT to Get Hit by CarsPlease read on. This is not an appeal for bicycle riders to just wear a helmet and to pay attention tothe rules of the road. It doesn’t matter how good your helmet is if you get hit by a car. The secret tostaying safe and avoiding a call to a Portland bicycle accident lawyer, is not to get hit by a car in thefirst place. We offer here our Top 10 reasons cycling accidents occur, and the best ways to avoidgetting hit by a car. The truth is you’d be better off following these tips without wearing a helmetand not getting hit, than to wear a helmet and think that’s the last precaution you need to take,leading you to get knocked off your bike and facing frightening injuries or worse. 1. The right cross. Far from being a boxing term, this is actually the most common way for a bicyclist to get hit. Riding happily down the street, the cyclist is suddenly confronted with a car pulling out of a side street, driveway or parking lot on the right. This gives the cyclist no time to avoid the collision, and as any bicycle accident lawyer will tell you, when a car hits a bike, the car wins...every time. To avoid the right cross: A. Get a light and get yourself seen. Consider bright, flashing LED lights, even for daytime driving. If you can mount a light or lamp on your helmet, it’s even better, because when you look directly at a driver, you’re shining your light right at them, increasing your chances of being seen. Make eye contact any time it’s possible. B. Wave your hand if you can’t make eye contact. Moving your arm left and right makes a motion that doesn’t match the flow of traffic, making it more likely to be spotted. Consider getting an air horn (really loud) for your bike, and if all else fails, shout “Hey!” if you see a car pulling out. Being embarrassed is better than being flattened. C. We know it’s not fair, but slow down if you think you haven’t been seen. If you haven’t made eye contact and you think there’s any chance you haven’t been seen, make sure you can come to a complete stop if necessary to avoid the collision. D. It may go against your natural instinct, as well as your desire not to be hit from behind, but move over to your left a bit. The further right you are, i.e. closer to the curb, the more difficult it is for cars coming from the right to see you. Being seen is the number one key to avoid being hit. On faster roads with fewer intersections, it’s ok to stay a bit further to the right, but statistics show you’re far more likely to be hit by a car coming from the right that can’t see you than a car coming up from behind that can see you clearly. 2. The door prize is one you don’t want to win. One of the top three causes of bicycle accidents is caused when a car door is opened directly in front of an oncoming cyclist. Once again, moving over to the left is the best way of avoiding this type of accident, in spite of a cyclist’s natural inclination to worry about cars behind not being able to get past. The fact is the further left you are, the less likely you’ll have the door of a parked car opened right in front of you.
  • 2. 3. Crosswalk danger. People riding bikes on the sidewalk are difficult for drivers to see when they’re turning right from one street onto another. Many cyclists are hit as they leave the sidewalk and enter the crosswalk. Avoid this by: A. Get that headlight on, even during the day. B. Slow down, so you can stop if a car suddenly turns in front of you. C. Stay off the sidewalk. You probably shouldn’t be there in the first place, but if you are, the rules state you shouldn’t be going any faster than a pedestrian would normally walk.4. Riding the wrong way really is riding the wrong way. Moving against the traffic is such a bad idea for so many reasons, suffice it to say that if you’re riding on the left side of the street, towards oncoming traffic, you’re three times more likely to be hit than if you’re on the right side of the road; for child cyclists, that figure increases to being seven times more likely to be hit. In fact, one in every four cycling accidents happens when the cyclist is riding against the traffic. And just a question—how do you plan on making a right hand turn?5. Stay out of the blind spots at red lights. Cyclists are killed every year by pulling up along the right side of a car or truck at a red light. As the light turns green and the cyclist pulls off, the car or truck makes a right hand turn, and disaster is unavoidable. To keep this from happening, simply take up a position behind a car while waiting at the red light. This will make you highly visible to the cars behind you, and you won’t be in danger if the car in front makes a right turn without warning.6. The right hook. Returning again to the boxing terminology, this knockout occurs when a car attempts to pass you just before an intersection, then makes a right hand turn directly in front of you, giving you no time to avoid running into them. Keeping to your left and taking up the whole lane at the intersection will actually prevent this type of accident, because the car behind you won’t be able to safely get around you without pulling into an oncoming traffic lane. Don’t worry about holding them up for a few moments. Would you rather be an annoyance or a statistic? Keep your eyes on the car behind you as you approach any intersection. If you don’t have a rear view mirror on your bike, make it your next purchase.7. The right hook, but this one’s yours. You’re coming up on a car or even another cyclist who is moving too slowly for your liking. You go to pass them on the right when without warning, they pull right to go into a parking lot, parking space or side street. The collision is inevitable, and to be honest, this one’s your fault. A bicycle accident lawyer will tell you that the most obvious way to avoid this accident is to never pass on the right. If a car is moving too slowly, stay behind it until it either goes faster or you can safely pass it on the left.8. The left cross. This is similar to No. 1 above, when a car turns left in front of you as you enter an intersection. Being seen through the use of lights, bright clothes, eye contact, waving or shouting are the best ways to avoid this type of accident. Not passing other
  • 3. vehicles on the right—when you become virtually invisible to cars coming from the other direction—is another. 9. The attack from the back occurs when you’re cycling near the right side of the lane and have to pull out to avoid a car door opening or some other obstruction. Bang! You get hit from behind. To avoid becoming a casualty of this common type of cycling accident, remember to never move left without looking behind you first. Also, you should never move left without first signaling your intention to do so. If you stay in the main traffic lane to begin with, you’ll avoid the necessity to suddenly pull out into the path of traffic coming up from behind you. 10. Being hit directly from behind, even when you haven’t pulled out to the left is something cyclists fear the most, but statistics show this is one of the rarest types of cycling accidents. Less than 4% of all collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists occur in this manner. Nevertheless, to avoid this type of accident, high visibility and lane positioning are what will protect you the most. Other things you can do are avoid roads where traffic is moving at a higher speed, try to stay away from dark roads, and get a good rear-facing light for your bike. Use reflective clothing and vests and again, get a mirror for your bike, so you can see when cars are coming up from behind you, especially if they’re moving at a high rate of speed. Finally, try to not hug the curb. This may be counter-intuitive, but it will increase your visibility and also give you some “wiggle room” in the event of having to take evasive action.Staying safe while riding a bicycle on Oregon roads is not just a cyclist’s responsibility. Having saidthat, the problem is when a car and a bicycle come together, the car might get a scratch or two, butthe cyclist is highly unlikely to be so lucky. Following the safety tips we’ve listed here will go a longway to keeping you healthy and making your cycling experience more enjoyable. Sadly, Oregonbicyclists had a bad year in 2011, and more than 100 lost their lives; more than a thousand wereinjured. If you’ve been a victim of “The Right Cross, The Right Hook or The Door Prize,” or in any waybeen injured through another road user’s negligence, don’t hesitate. Contact an experienced,excellent Portland bicycle accident lawyer who will explain your options in detail, help you deal withthe insurance companies and fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve.

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