Sharing the Road With Bicycles

A bicycle is considered a vehicle on the roadway and has exactly the same rights as any other vehicle.

Bicycling is one of the most popular recreational activities in the United States, indeed, in the world. There are over 90,000,000 cyclists in the U. S. and over 30,000,000 adult cyclists. In any given year we can expect 800 - 1000 cyclists to die on our roadways while some 500,000 will be treated for injuries. In fact, the first automobile accident in the United States occurred when a motor vehicle crashed into a pedal cycle rider in New York City in 1896!

How to Avoid Six Potential Accident Situations

Listed below are the six most common bicycle-related accidents and ways to avoid them. The types of accidents are listed in order from most common to least common.

1. Motorist's Failure To Yield
(approximately 30 percent of bicycle-related accidents)
  • Causes:
    a) Motorist pulls out from a stop sign and fails to yield to cyclist or,
    b) turns left in front of oncoming bike.
  • How to avoid:
    As you approach an intersection, don't hug the curb. If you are going straight, ride approximately where the right wheel of a car would be if it was going straight. Put your hands on the brake levers and watch closely. Be prepared for an emergency maneuver.
2. Cyclist's Failure To Yield
(approximately 30 percent of bicycle-related accidents)
  • Causes:
    Cyclists who don't yield, who ride out of driveways without stopping, or run red lights and stop signs, or turn left in front of oncoming cars.
  • How to avoid:
    Easy! Wait for traffic to clear. Stop for red lights and stop signs. Don't turn left unless you have checked for traffic and it is clear.
3. No Lights At Night
(approximately 18 percent of bicycle-related accidents)
  • Causes:
    Bicyclists who ride without lights are hit in many different situations - by turning cars, by overtaking cars, by cars pulling out from stop signs.
  • How to avoid:
    Easy, again. Use proper lights.
4. Wrong-Way Riding
(approximately 10 percent of bicycle-related accidents)
  • Causes:
    These typically involve a cyclist being hit by a car turning or emerging from a side street. The motorist doesn't look in the wrong direction for oncoming traffic and POW!
  • How to avoid:
    Ride with traffic, as required by law.
5. Being Hit From Behind
(approximately 7 percent of bicycle-related accidents)
  • Causes:
    Overtaking car, unlit cyclist at night. Some involve drunk drivers.
  • How to avoid:
    Become proficient at looking over your shoulder without swerving. Get a rear view mirror. Occasionally checking traffic to the rear can help you blend better with the flow of cars, buses, trucks and other bikes.
6. Opening Car Doors
(approximately 5 percent of bicycle-related accidents)
  • Causes:
    Someone opens a parked car door in front of an overtaking bike. Typically, the motorist fails to check for traffic before emerging. This is, by the way, illegal and the collision is the motorists' fault.
  • How to avoid:
    Never ride closer than three feet to a parked car.
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