Bicycle Safety and the Danger of Car Accidents

Every year, more than 500,000 people in the United States are treated in the emergency room for injuries sustained in bicycle accidents. Almost one half of all bicycle-motor vehicle crashes occur at intersections, making them one of the most dangerous places to ride.  The number one way to avoid a bicycle accident is to light up – use a bicycle light and wear reflective clothing and apparel.  When a car accident involves hitting a bicycle, the cyclist always loses.

Bicycle accidents at intersections can result from a number of factors. In some cases, a distracted driver may not notice that a bicyclist is approaching the intersection. Even if a driver is paying attention, bikers can be difficult to see, particularly on congested roads or in dark conditions. I often hear bicyclists say they are safe riders and abide all traffic laws, so if they get hit by a motorist, it won’t be their fault.  When any size car hits a bicycle it is never good for the bicyclist, regardless of fault.  Don’t assume that just because you know and are following the rules of the road, everyone else is as well.    

Contrary to many riders’ beliefs, it is generally safer to rider closer to the active lane of travel as opposed to the far right.  This puts the bicyclist in better view of cars on intersecting streets that will be looking for other cars before crossing the rider’s path, but may not be looking for bicycles.  With this in mind, bicyclists should always approach intersections with caution, remain aware of their surroundings throughout the ride, ride defensively – be prepared to react, and take advantage of bike paths and bike lanes whenever possible.