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Road cycling can be very enjoyable and a good way of keeping fit, as well as making your early morning commute to work a little less pollution-centred. However, it is also important to know that there are other things on the road too, most of them being much bigger and made of more metal than you and your bike.
Therefore it’s good to brush up on your knowledge of the most common ways you could get hit by any sort of traffic: even if you’re a seasoned rider, you can never be too familiar with your safety on the road.
The Left Cross
Probably the most common cause of the more minor cycling injuries on the road is when cars pull out from a junction to your left and don’t see you. This can result in you either hitting their car from the side or vice versa, and really isn’t a pleasant experience. To prevent this sort of thing you just have to be aware, ready to slow-down or stop quickly, and be obnoxiously loud/ wave a hand around to make sure that the driver will definitely see you.
If you’re riding at night, it’s essential to get a good headlight for your bike so that you’ll be seen, as the drivers will be looking for the lights of cars: if you don’t have a light, it’s very likely you won’t be seen at all.
Finally, you can ride a little bit more over to the right-side of the road so that both you and the car have more room for error, and it also helps that the driver is going to be looking for cars and hence will be looking at the centre of the lane, where you would be. You’re also far less likely to be hit from behind by a car that can definitely see you if you move over to the right.
Red Light Danger
It may seem like the safest place to be as all the traffic is stopped, but if you are not aware at red lights other cars could turn into your path, especially if they are trying to turn left from the traffic lights.This normally happens when you stop in a car’s blind spot or the driver doesn’t see you for some other reason, and so when they turn left you get caught in the crossfire.
It’s a good rule of thumb to be at a distance ahead of a certain car to make sure that the driver can see you through his/her windscreen, and unless you are turning left, it’s probably best to stay behind the first car and ahead of the second in case the first car is in a rush.
It’s also good to assume that cars can decide to turn left at any moment until after the turning, so always get across the gap as quick as you can to avoid any last-minute hits. Furthermore, be careful of the ‘door zone’ of stopped cars if you are pulling up to one, as any passengers getting out while the lights are red could swing their door right into you: not a nice event for anyone, especially not the cyclist.
Hit from Behind
While you are much less likely to get hit from cars in the same lane as you, it can still happen, especially if you are pulling across to the right to avoid some obstacle in the road or a parked car. If you pull out too sharply, the cars behind you may be going too fast and slam into you, and this could cause a pile-up behind them, so it’s not an ideal scenario.
To avoid this sort of thing, you should always be aware of what’s behind you before you go swerving all over your lane, and make sure that if there are cars behind you, then you notify them of your presence. Also, don’t go dipping in and out of the parked cars as this increases the risk of this sort of accident, instead just ride in a steady line just to the left of the centre of the lane: the primary cycling position.
Hopefully this has refreshed your memory of these sorts of collisions and how to avoid them, or has given you some new knowledge to take with you when road cycling.
And always make sure you have cycling insurance
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