Did you know that being in the wrong place at the wrong time drastically increases your risk of being involved in an accident?
For cyclists, these particular settings and times have proven to require extra caution.
Biking in a big city can be scary. There’s more traffic, intersections, parked cars and narrow roadways. These challenging conditions contribute to the 71 percent of bicyclist deaths that occur in urban areas, compared to the 29 percent that happen in rural settings.
Bicyclists have a right to all California roadways — including urban ones. However, this statistic should serve as a warning for cyclists. Come to the city prepared to drive defensively!
Risk factors come mainly from:
- Opening car doors
- Drivers who pass too closely
While faced with these hazards, always ride with the mentality that drivers may fail to yield the right of way to you. That means you may need to take a long pause to make sure it’s safe before proceeding across an intersection.
When possible, you should also try to ride far enough away from parked cars that an opening door would not hit you. If you see a car park on the side of the road or the car lights are on, slow down so that you can easily come to a stop if need be.
Similarly, it’s best to stop and let a car pass if the driver isn’t giving you enough space.
Time of Day
One way to avoid heavy traffic in urban or rural areas is to travel when the majority of drivers aren’t. Most fatal bicycle accident occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. During this time there may still be heavy traffic from rush hour. Visibility and alertness may also be limited as the sun goes down and drivers feel more tired.
Avoiding these hours altogether is a cyclist’s safest option. However, if you’re going to be riding during these times, make sure to increase your visibility with bright colors, a light in the front and back and reflective gear.
Statistically, the season and day of the week have not made a significant impact on whether or not an accident will occur.
A cyclist expecting to be seen
Most automobile/bicycle accidents happen whenever a bicycle is expecting to be seen. Whether you’re at an intersection or a car has pulled onto the roadway behind you, always have an escape route mapped out in your head in case things should go wrong.
If things do go wrong, know what to do after an accident to ensure that your road to recovery isn’t made more difficult than it needs to be.