The safest place to ride your bike is always on dedicated trails and bike lanes, but sometimes your destination will require you to be on roads. If you find yourself mixed in with traffic here is a list of situations you should try to avoid.
The greater the difference between in speed between you and the vehicles around you, the less safe the road for bicycling.
Left hand turns on multi-lane roads
Multi-lane roads in general are good to avoid if possible. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to make a left hand turn in multi-lane traffic it is almost always safest to come to an intersection with stop lights, dismount off your bike, and cross as a pedestrian.
Intersections with non-dedicated left turn signals
Intersections with non dedicated left turn signal lights mean the vehicles turning left are waiting for gaps in traffic to take a turn. This is a dangerous situation if you are going straight through the intersection with speed. If the driver is on the look-out for vehicles they may not see you and commit to the turn. It’s always safest to slow down at intersections and look to make eye contact with these driver to assure they see you before crossing the thick stop line.
Intersections (right handed blind spot)
This pinch point is a very common cause of scrapes and tumbles. Many drivers will commit to right handed turns on green lights without checking their right hand blind spot. Be defensive and always assume the driver turning doesn’t see you, get behind them and wait for them to finish the turn then continue through the intersection.
Parking lot exits
Parking lot exits, driveways, especially in areas of low traffic can represent a danger if you are passing straight through. Similar to the intersection slow down and attempt to make eye contact with the driver before cycling by with speed.
Some other things to remember:
- Rush hour : 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm are the least safe time to bike on roads.
- One third of accidents happen in intersections.
- Be defensive, getting an extra 5 minutes reduced on your commute is not worth your life!
Biking to work is freeing experience, it keeps you fit, happy, and it saves the environment. Just be smart about how you do it. Happy biking!