11 Common Situations Cyclists Get Hit and How You Can Avoid Them

Jan Poshenko
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Being Rear Ended

Cyclists get hit by a car every day in America. Most often it happens when the cyclist and car come up to a red light at nearly the same time. If the cyclist gets to the intersection first and does not have the right of way, he needs to wait at the red light. If the car gets to the intersection first and does not have the right of way, he has to wait as well.

If the cyclist is traveling at 15 mph and the car is traveling at 30 mph, the force upon impact is like being hit by a 2,000 lb. object travelling at 30 mph. If the cyclist is traveling at 15 mph and the car is traveling at 25 mph, the force upon impact is like being hit by a 1,500 lb. object traveling at 25 mph. Therefore, you can see it’s better to be hit by a car going 25 mph than a car going 30 mph.

According to statistics, one third of all car-bike accidents are caused by cyclists confronting drivers. The next time you are at a red light, remember to wait, don’t confront, and be ready to move at a moment’s notice.

What Causes You to Be Rear Ended

By a Car?

Cycling is a great way to get around – whether it is in a metropolitan city or in the country. The bike also provides inexpensive recreation for the family. Do you want to know the top 11 situations that can lead to your bike getting struck by a car?

Please be aware of your surroundings and follow these rules to keep you and your children safe while you are on your way to work or school.

How to Avoid Being Rear Ended

When riding your bike on the road, it is very important to focus on your surroundings. There are many hazards out there, and it is up to you to be aware of them.

Focus on the road ahead of you, and watch for cars so you can react to the situation accordingly. If you are in a pace line or if you are riding in a group, stay aware of the rider in front of you. Make sure you go slow enough to avoid being passed by a following vehicle.

Don't ride right by the side of the road where car doors may open. It is best to ride in the center of the traffic lane of the road. If there are bike lanes available, you should only ride in them as a last resort, especially if there are no cars in them, because they have the least protection.

There will be times when you may have to ride on the other side of the lane. However, you should never be riding on the sidewalk if you can avoid it.

Before putting your bike away for the night, make sure that you park it in a safe location. You should also invest in a good bike lock.

The SMIDSY

What Causes the SMIDSY Accident

Regardless of whether it’s a car, a motorbike, or a cyclist they collided with, the majority of these accidents are caused by a SMIDSY (Sorry, Mate, I Didn’t See You) mistake.

It may seem self-explanatory that the reason why they didn’t see the cyclist was because the cyclist was hidden by one of the other vehicles. Surprisingly, that accounts for less than half of all SMIDSY accidents.

So what does cause the other half? Distraction, sensory overload, and any number of other factors can force a driver, a cyclist, or a pedestrian to act without fully paying attention.

In any given situation, there are a number of errors that can stack up to make the SMIDSY accident. For drivers and cyclists, random things like gripping too tightly, not being aware of the traffic laws, or even failing to use the mirror properly can cause an accident a block before the accident actually occurs.

So here are the most common situations that result in an accident and how you can avoid them.

How to Avoid the SMIDSY Accident

Racing Cyclist:

This is the most common bicycle accident. These cyclists are in a hurry to get to the next traffic light, house, or work. So they ride fast and brush against vehicles.

How to avoid this situation:

The car driver should stop and allow the cyclist to pass.

The cyclist should avoid dangerous riding.

If he could not prevent an accident, he should move away to avoid the driver’s revenge.

The Cyclist Who is Afraid of Cars:

This is the cyclist who is afraid to drive the wrong way. He takes risks and crosses the car traffic. He fears the cars, but he does not have the driver’s psychological quality of courage.

How to avoid this situation:

It is unsafe to drive or cross any traffic contrary to the rules.

The car driver must be careful not to hit such a cyclist.

The cyclist should not take such risks.

The Drunk Cyclist:

This is the cyclist who is drunk. He is often careless and does not obey traffic rules.

How to avoid this situation:

The vehicles should avoid hitting the cyclist when he is drunk.

The cyclist needs to be stupid to ride and drive drunk.

A vehicle can welcome him into the road to avoid collision.

The Right Hook

The unfortunate truth is that cyclists get hit. You have a right to the road, but pedestrians, emergency responders, and other emergency vehicles also have a right to the road. This is why when an emergency vehicle comes up behind you, you need to pull over to allow them to pass.

You can be on the right side of the road and still be hit, however. A right hook occurs when you are riding along on the right side and a person opens their door and hits you, or pulls out in front of you when you are biking perpendicular to them.

The key is to be conspicuous. Use lights and reflective materials on your person and bike. Before you hop on your bike, check to be sure your lights are working.

If you can use some reflective material on your bike, do so.

The more you can be seen, the safer you will be.

What Causes the Right Hook

How many times have you seen a cyclist get hit by a car after they turned right? Most of the time, the cyclist gets hit from behind by somebody who is driving a car. This is called the right hook.

This happens when the cyclist is overtaking a line of cars. They are thinking that the drivers behind them will give them enough space to overtake. However, the driver of the car at the front of the line is impatient. As a result, they turn right without enough care. This ends up hitting the cyclist and causing serious injuries.

Now, how can you avoid this situation?

How to Avoid the Right Hook

A right hook is a bit more intimidating than the typical left hook. The opponent you saw coming didn’t signal and approaches you from the right, unlike a left-hook attack.

In most cases, it’s the car’s fault … but that won’t do you much good if you’re the one that gets hit. Avoiding right-hook dangers involves more than just taking care of yourself … you have to keep an eye out for drivers, too.

Be Visible at all Times: In order to avoid a collision with a motorist, you have to be visible at all times. A big part of avoiding the right hook collision comes from being seen by cars.

Light your bike using the highest-quality bicycle lights that you can. Do your best to use front and rear lights at all times so that motorists can see you from different angles.

Be safe and use retro-reflective gear so that drivers can see you in the day and prevent crashes/collisions at night. This will make you much more approachable to other drivers.

Wear bright and reflective clothing: Wearing the proper reflective clothing during the day will help motorists see you from a distance. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The Other Right Hook

(Cycling Safety)

Every cyclist has experienced it – getting hit by a car from the side while riding straight ahead. It is called the right hook because of the impact as the cyclist suddenly finds himself in the side of a car. This is one of the most dangerous situations a cyclist can find themselves in.

This is the situation where motorists tend to be particularly negligent about cyclists because they don’t expect the cyclist to be where he is. Often this situation occurs when the motorist is making a right hand turn at an intersection – the cyclist is on the side of the motorist still going straight.

The best way to avoid this situation is to be predictable. Never extend your lane of travel into the lane the motorist is entering in order to get by an obstruction. Stay out of their blind spot, and stay visible with lights and reflectors.

Be visible when cars go to turn. When a motorist is preparing to turn they will look for conditions that indicate it is the best time to turn – no red lights, no pedestrians in the crosswalk, and no cars coming.

It is important that a cyclist be in the motorist’s field of vision as he is looking for these things. If a cyclist is positioned behind a parked car for example, the cyclist becomes invisible as far as the motorist is concerned.

What Causes the Other Right Hook

The right hook is when you are cycling on the right hand side of the road and the car comes from behind and passes you.

The driver then pulls into your lane in front of you and does a u-turn or something like that. To avoid this, you need to be aware of vehicles around you, which when you ride will be largely done in your mirrors. So ensure you glance to the left and right regularly when you are cycling.

Another common cause is when you are cycling on quiet streets. A lot of people like to enjoy the view and don’t pay too much attention. If you are riding on quiet streets, be very aware of drivers passing you and try and maintain a good distance from the cars. In fact, be extra careful on quiet streets because their unexpectedness is what makes them so dangerous for cyclists

When you come to junctions, always assume the car will be turning left and be prepared for this. I’ve heard of many near misses caused by small hatchbacks turning left out of side roads in front of the cyclist. This is another situation where you need to make sure you don’t leave it to the driver to see you. They may look in their mirror before turning and see you but then if you are too close, they will mistakenly think you will be able to slow down or stop in time.

How to Avoid the Other Right Hook

One of the more common situations you can find yourself in as a cyclist is if you're on a trail and a runner is coming from your right. The other right hook is pretty easy to avoid if you just anticipate it and take the proper position on the bike.

You should probably be giving the right of way to the runner, but it's also a good idea to be aware of them as they are coming towards you. A common problem with this situation is cyclists get focused on the trail up ahead and not on the trail to the right (it's close to the trail you'll be taking). Before you know it, the runner is coming up on your right and you don't have any way to avoid them.

So, one of the easiest ways to prevent the other right hook is to make sure you are paying attention to the trail to the right. The other thing you can do is if you anticipate a runner coming from the right, move your bike to the left to give them room and force them to pass you on the left – this way, you will both be traveling the speed of the trail and it will be safer for all involved.

The Red Lights of Death

Many cyclists are hit or nearly hit when the driver is stopped at a red light. The drivers often did not see them until the last moment.

Many drivers seem to have a difficult time noticing bicycles when their head is turned to look to the right and then at that driver on the left.

One of the easiest ways to get your attention is to wear a brightly colored jacket. The driver is probably not looking for you if you are dressed in a bright yellow or lime green bike jersey.

Put a reflector on the back of your bike under the seat. Or buy some reflectors and put them on the spokes of your bike and your bike helmet. These will make you very visible when the light changes.

What Causes the Red Lights of Death

How to Avoid the Red Lights of Death

While it may not be the right time for a scooter to share the road with cyclists, cars, and trucks, maybe they’ll make exceptions if they know what your habits are. (See also: 12 Problems Cyclists Overcome to Be 1% Better Every Day)

Know your rights. Being a cyclist doesn’t give you dominion over all other road users, but you do have the right to use the roads. It’s true that cars have more mass and speed and are more dangerous, but that doesn’t make you the road’s second-class citizen. It’s important for cyclists to know and use all of their rights.

Share the road, not the space. Cycling in a bike lane is just like driving in a lane. You must stay in one lane and you can’t change lanes or make turns in a bike lane unless you’re at an intersection. (See also: 7 Essential Items You Need to Start a Business)

Go in opposite directions If there’s no bike lane, you must ride as far to the left as is safe and you must watch out for parked cars. Parked cars can open doors without warning.

The Wrong Way Wrecker

The Wrong Way Wrecker comes in the form of a driver that is trying to pass a cyclist’s on the left. The driver is trying to get into the left-hand lane, but there’s a cyclist in front slowing them down. The driver is impatient and they want to get around the cyclist. They start to inch closer and closer to the cyclist. While they are doing this, they don’t notice a Wrecker coming the other way. There’s a Wrecker coming because the car in front of the cyclist decided to switch into the right lane. The Wrong Way Wrecker didn’t see the car change lanes and ends up hitting the cyclist.

What Causes the Wrong Way Wrecker

To hit Cyclists?

One of the most common types of cycling accidents is when a car or truck pulls out in front of the cyclist and ends up hitting the cyclist because the cyclist is in the opposite lane. In fact, between 15 and 35% of all cycling accidents involve a car pulling out of a side street or driveway directly in the path of the cyclist as the cyclist is moving straight ahead.

There are several possible reasons why this happens. The cyclist may be traveling too fast. A driver may be distracted and not see the cyclist. A driver may be trying to change lanes and accidentally pull out into the path of the cyclist. The cyclist may be traveling in the wrong lane and a driver doesn’t realize it “ maybe because there isn’t a line on the street or signs that indicate the cyclist is in the correct lane. A driver may be drunk or on drugs and not see the cyclist at all.

When this type of accident happens, the driver will often be paying so much attention to the left or right side of the road to make sure that cars are not pulling out that he or she will miss seeing the cyclist, who is actually traveling in the opposite direction. The cyclist is so focused on making sure that cars are in their own lane and are not pulling over that he or she misses the danger from the wrong way traffic.

How to Avoid the Wrong Way Wrecker

It’s likely that you’ve seen them – the cars that seem to be coming straight at you and then swerve in time to avoid you. Intentionally trying to avoid a car in order to avoid getting hit may be dangerous in itself, but you need to understand one thing – most of the time, the car is not coming toward you.

As you approach the road, you’re on the sidewalk and the other driver is on the road. It is easier to see a car coming from the front than it is to see the driver’s side. So when you’re on the sidewalk and you see a car coming at you, it most likely means he or she doesn’t see you. Obviously, as a cyclist, this is not your fault, but you can take responsibility in staying out of the way.

As you approach the street, pay attention to side windows and doors and you’ll see that they are rolling up. In a second, the driver will pull out and begin approaching you. At this point it is better to signal and pull off to the side than to continue riding with the car. This head start will give the driver more time to realize you’re there and to slow down.

The Sidewalk Havoc

Some cars will simply pass you in the bike lane, which is a definite danger. However, most cars and trucks will make contact with you when you’re on the bike lane. In that case, you can’t just “make contact” in exchange. Instead, you should move to the left as much as possible to get out of the car’s way.

The Sidewalk Havoc In this case, nature is just as unpredictable as cars and trucks. It’s easy to trip on a sidewalk bump or hole. It’s important to pay attention to the conditions of the sidewalk, especially in areas with narrow bike lanes. As with pedestrians, always assume that people walking on the sidewalk won’t be paying attention to your presence.

The Cyclist Chaser Another common scenario involves a car or truck that is slowly following you for several blocks. They’re just waiting for the right moment to pass you. However, they’re not just going to pass you. They’re waiting for the perfect time, which means you’re in for a rough ride.

What Causes the Sidewalk Havoc

That Cyclists Can Avoid?

Point A and Point B.

In between exists a world of screaming at one another, angry shouts, blaring horns, hostile glares, and heated exchanges.

If you ride in the city, you’re probably familiar with this – the sidewalk ballet.

Whether you’re a cyclist or your venture around the city on foot, chances are you’ve experienced your share of sidewalk havoc, and you’re probably wondering what caused it and how to avoid it.

Well, it’s time for you to be enlightened.

How to Avoid the Sidewalk Havoc

In the wrong setting, a bicycle can seem like dangerous and nerve-wracking equipment. Even when a sidewalk seems like the most safe and obvious place to ride a bike, cyclists have to be on their toes just to avoid getting hit by pedestrians walking right in front of them.

By far the most common way that a cyclist gets hit by a pedestrian is on the sidewalk right at the edge of a stop sign or light. Pay strict attention to the person on the corner as this is the one you need to avoid. By this, we don’t mean paying attention to the person crossing the road; rather you need to be watching the person at the corner deciding whether or not to cross the road.

Keep as much distance as possible between you and this person as he/she decides whether or not to cross. The second they step onto the street, you need to prepare yourself for a quick stop/slowdown to prevent a collision. In the event you can’t stop in time, at least keep yourself up. You will lose momentum falling forward but you won’t get hurt. If you fall over backwards the potential for a nasty fall is high.

The Door Prize

This one is presumably the most common cycling accident because it usually happens right within the cyclist’s view. The result is often severe, involving a motor vehicle accident that sends the cyclist to the hospital for days or even weeks. Cars do not always give cyclists enough room when passing. Most motorists are not necessarily aware of the cyclist’s vulnerability. They might be on their cell phones, fiddling with the radio or CD, eating, or even yawning. The Door Prize also commonly happens to pedestrians trying to cross the street. It might not always be the motor vehicle’s fault. Sometimes the cyclist is a tempting target because of a gap between two parked cars that seems big enough.

What Causes the Door Prize

) Not being visible – Either because you are not wearing bright clothing, or because the driver has not checked traffic coming from behind before they open their door.

Solution: If you have a rear light, make sure it is turned on. Ride in a predictable and steady way, with one ear always listening for sounds that indicate traffic is moving behind you.

) Blind spots – Most cars have blind spots that disappear when the driver checks the mirrors, but a lot of car drivers are not as diligent as they should be in checking.

Solution: Ride where you can be seen by the driver in the next lane over.

) Distracted drivers – Anyone driving on the road may be distracted for a moment by their kids, their cell phone, their radio…etc. Anything that causes them to take their attention off the road.

Solution: Ride in a way that doesn't surprise your driver. Don't come from an angle that they haven't seen in the mirrors, and if they slow and settle into the distance behind you, they are probably watching out for you.

) Aggressive drivers – Aggressive drivers often will see cyclists as potential threats, and they have an interest in putting them in their place.

How to Avoid the Door Prize

Many cyclists get hit because they are too close to a door when it opens. In fact, this is the number one cause of cyclist pedal strikes! If you are within three feet of the doorknob when it opens, you may get hit by a door prize.

Why is it called the doorknob after all? It is because it is within three feet of the doorknob where the most damage is done by cyclist pedal strikes.

To avoid the door prize keep your distance from door zones. Many cities, including Philadelphia, are now installing bike lanes next to parked cars which keep you safe from the door prize.

Many cities are also installing SmartDoor’s which are more pedestrian friendly. These are automatic doors that are linked to sensors on the sidewalk. When a pedestrian is nearby the doors will automatically open. For a cyclist it is the same but in reverse. When a cyclist is within three feet of the door, the door automatically opens on its own. SmartDoor’s make it safer for everyone because they keep automatic doors from stranding the user inside or outside of the building.

The Right Cross

One of the most devastating scenarios of getting hit a car is the right-hand side cross.

The reason it is so much deadlier than other types of accidents is because the rider is not facing the oncoming car until the driver opens his/her door. This door is often too small to hit the cyclist squarely, so sometimes goes directly over the cyclist, inflicting fatal injuries. Sometimes the cyclist may survive the incident, though he will probably suffer severe spinal cord damage or other debilitating injuries.

What you need to do:

What Causes the Right Cross

Traffic to Hit the Bike?

The most common problem is when the car turns left in front of you. The cyclist flows down the lane between the car and the curb. They are careful to stay on the right side of the lane for that reason, but if a car turning left pulls out in front of the bicyclist, the cyclist has no time to stop or swerve off the road.

This is the same problem you have with the moped on the narrow European roads. The drivers, whether European or American, turn their heads left to look for conflicting traffic and then continue to turn left past the bicyclist, who rides in the center of the lane as close to the curb as possible to prevent this from occurring.

How to Avoid the Right Cross

The most common type of bike-car encounter took place in urban areas: The right cross. While this type of crash typically involves a distracted driver, cyclists on the roadway need to do their part to avoid this type of crash.

The best way to do this is to ride in an empty lane on the right-hand side. This will allow you to avoid the door zone where most right-crosses occur and also give you room to maneuver and move out of the way of cars that are turning across your path.

Make sure you:

Obey traffic signals. Motorists may be distracted by their phones or other behaviors, but if you do what you are supposed to do, you’ll appear predictable and reduce the risk of a crash.

Make sure to stop at stop signs.

Ride predictably. Even if you’re an experienced cyclist, your regular bike commute routine may be predictable to the wrong people. Make your path an exercise in randomness.

Take a break. Even if you’re used to riding everyday to work, unexpected life events can cause you to take a few days off. Taking a break from your normal routine may mean you’re back to riding in a familiar setting. Either pay attention to the familiar sights or use that time to get to know a new route.

The Left Cross

Avoiding this type of accident is as easy as using your eyes and keeping your head on a swivel. The reason you are getting hit from the left side is because you are not paying attention to what is going on around you. When that happens, it's too late for you to react and it will be too late to avoid the accident. That is why it is important to use your peripheral vision as you ride along with your head on a swivel.

What Causes the Left Cross

The Right Hook, and the Back U-Turn?

These three common freak accidents are the results of several common causes … Here’s the breakdown:

The Left Cross and Right Hook:

{1}. The Left Cross and Right Hook accidents happen for both the same reason: Cyclists do not realize that they are blocking a driver’s line of sight and blurring the driver’s vision or the driver simply doesn’t have enough time to figure out what the cyclist is doing.
{2}. Only experienced drivers are able to spot you before they get to a point where it is too late to react and avoid hitting you. When you are riding on the streets, be very aware of blind spots and learn to watch for vehicles approaching from behind.
{3}. You must always assume that there is a vehicle approaching a blind spot and be prepared to stop and yield when necessary, instead of assuming the driver behind you has seen you.

The Back U-Turn

{1}. Many drivers who hit cyclists either approach an intersection or make a right turn without first checking to see if cyclists are approaching or crossing the intersection.
{2}. Drivers who run into cyclists most often do not see that the cyclist is approaching until it is too late or they just don’t care if they hit someone on a bike.

How to Avoid the Left Cross

One common car/cyclists accident is when the car pulls out in front of the bike. This usually occurs when the car is trying to turn left and cuts the cyclist off. There is no good way to handle this other than to maintain a safe distance from cars. Another tip would be to stay to the right and signal that you are slowing down. Most car drivers will check their rearview mirror and react accordingly.

The Roundabout Confusion

According to the US Census Bureau, there are over 600,000 miles of paved roads in the United States. About 14% of those roads are four-lane divided highways.

When you consider the number of miles that bicycles are ridden each year in the US, it's just a small fraction of that number. In fact, just over 1% of Americans cycle as their method of transportation.

That isn't to say cyclists don't travel far distances or go on long journeys, though. It's estimated that they travel roughly 7.4 billion miles each year.

With the significant increase of bikes on the road, there has also been a rise in accidents and fatalities. Research suggests that cyclists are 2.8 times more likely to die when involved in a motor vehicle collision than a driver or passenger.

Since the last several years, the number of crashes and fatalities has been steadily rising each year. In 2016 alone, 840 cyclists lost their lives in motor vehicle collisions, and while that's a step down from the 950 in 2015, those 840 lives taken are not from previous years these numbers are an increase from the 786 in 2014.

The first step to avoiding these accidents is to educate yourself on traffic laws and know your rights as a cyclist.

What Causes the Roundabout Confusion

The majority of accidents involving cyclists and motorists at roundabouts result from the actions of the cyclist. Understandably, the most frequent cause of cyclist injury is the lack of awareness of how a roundabout works by other traffic, but it is the cyclist’s responsibility to be aware of operating rules.

On roundabouts, the first car to enter has right of way. Cyclists need to be aware of this and be prepared to give way, even if they have right of way in a separate signal.

The Visibility of the Motorist

For cyclists to operate safely on roundabouts, motorists need to drive with reasonable care. This means looking behind for cyclists before entering the roundabout. Cyclists should not feel afraid of approaching a roundabout knowing they will be seen by other traffic.

Driving to the Speed of the Car in Front

In general, it does not hurt for motorcyclists to allow a few extra seconds at roundabouts to compensate for the occasional slow drivers or those who might take their time to get off. The same is true for cyclists who need to remember that the drivers in the queues are trying to exit and often need to pay more attention to the car in front. Motorists are turning and often turning blind and cannot see cyclists at all times.

How to Avoid the Roundabout Confusion

This is the point that often confuses average cyclists. The straight and right-turning lanes at a roundabout are considered “tracking” lanes.

In this position, cyclists have the same status as traffic moving through the intersection.

This is the reason why cyclists don’t have to stop when entering a roundabout.

The cycling lane is a very useful tool to safely negotiate the traffic at a roundabout. However, while this clarification may seem obvious to regular cyclists, it’s often one of the most poorly understood elements for new cyclists.

The confusion with roundabouts comes from the difference with a traffic light, where cyclists must stop to activate the light and then continue through.

To enter a roundabout, you can continue in the lane and slowly make your way to the desired exit points.

If you choose to cycle through a roundabout, you should bicycle in a straight line and obey the signs for the appropriate route.

Bicycles may use the left lane, the right, or the center lane.

Confusing the cyclist’s position at a roundabout can lead to misunderstandings with other motorists and pedestrians, so make sure that you are in the right position to avoid misunderstandings.