How NOT to get hit by a car
This page shows you real ways you can get hit and real ways to avoid them. This is a far cry from normal bicycle safety guides, which usually tell you little more than to wear your helmet and to follow the law. But consider this for a moment: Wearing a helmet will do absolutely nothing to prevent you from getting hit by a car. Sure, helmets might help you if you get hit, but your #1 goal should be to avoid getting hit in the first place.
Collision Type #1: The Right Cross
This is the most common way to get hit (or almost hit). A car is pulling out of a side street, parking lot, or driveway on the right. There are actually two possible kinds of collisions here: Either you’re in front of the car and get hit or the car pulls out in front of you and you slam into it.
How to avoid this collision:
1. Get a headlight. If you’re riding at night, you should be using a front headlight. It’s required by law. Even for daytime riding, a bright white light that has a flashing mode can make you more visible to motorists who might otherwise Right Cross you. Look for the new LED headlights which last ten times as long on a set of batteries as older lights. And headlamps (mounted on your helmet) are the best, because then you can look directly at the driver to make sure they see your light.
2. Wave. If you can’t make eye contact with the driver, wave your arm. It’s easier for them to see your arm going left and right than it is for them to see a bike coming straight at them. You could also use a loud horn to get drivers’ attention. If it looks like the driver is about to pull out without seeing you, yell “Hey!” You may feel awkward, but it’s better getting hit. Many countries require bells on bicycles, but the U.S. doesn’t.
3. Slow down. If you can’t make eye contact with the driver, slow down so much that you’re able to completely stop if you have to. Sure, it’s inconvenient, but it beats getting hit.
4. Ride further left. You’re probably used to riding in the “A” line in the picture, very close to the curb, because you’re worried about being hit from behind. But take a look at the car. When that driver is looking down the road for traffic, he’s not looking in the bike lane or the area closest to the curb; he’s looking in the middle of the lane, for other cars. The farther left you are (such as in “B”), the more likely the driver will see you. There’s an added bonus here: if the motorist doesn’t see you and starts pulling out, you may be able to go even farther left, or may be able to speed up and get out of the way before impact, or easily roll onto their hood as they slam on their brakes. In short, it gives you some options. Because if you stay all the way to the right and they pull out, your only “option” may be to run right into the driver’s side door.