Avoid Common Car Collisions

Bike in traffic


Left Cross

A motorist fails to see a cyclist and makes a left turn–it accounts for almost half of all car-bike crashes, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC).

  • Avoid It: If you see a car turning into your path, turn right into the lane with the vehicle. “Don’t creep into the intersection at red lights to get a head start,” says Laura Sandt, program specialist for the PBIC.
Right Hook

A motorist passes a cyclist on the left and turns right into the bike’s path.

  • Avoid It: Passing stopped or slow-moving cars on the right places you in a driver’s blind spot. Take the lane–it’s your right in all 50 states. “If you’re in the lane, the driver will slow down and stay behind you and wait to make the turn,” says Preston Tyree, who runs the Community Mobility Institute in Austin, Texas.

A cyclist traveling next to parked cars lined up on the street strikes a car door opened by the driver.

  • Avoid it: “Always be looking several cars ahead,” Sandt says. Ride at least three feet from parked cars, taking the lane if necessary. Be prepared to stop suddenly. Keep your weight over your rear wheel and apply strong force to the front brake lever, with moderate force to the back.
Parking Lotted

A motorist exits a driveway or parking lot into the path of a bicyclist.

  • Avoid It: No bike-handling tricks can overcome the danger of riding on a road with numerous parking-lot exits. Just take a less-direct route. If you don’t change routes, follow the law and ride fully in the road. Most of all: Stay off the sidewalk–motorists aren’t looking for you there, Sandt says.
The Overtaking

A motorist hits a cyclist from behind.

  • Avoid It: “Make yourself as visible as possible and ride predictably,” Sandt says. Use reflectors and lights on your bike at night; when moving to the left, signal with your arm; and hold a straight line while checking traffic over your shoulder, because even the most diligent driver could hit a swerving bike.