Bicycling in Portland: How NOT to Get Hit By Cars (Part 2)

Staying safe while riding a bicycle on Oregon roads is not just a cyclist’s responsibility. Having said that, the problem is when a car and a bicycle come together, the car might get a scratch or two, but the cyclist is highly unlikely to be so lucky. Following the safety tips we’ve listed here will go a long way to keeping you healthy and making your cycling experience more enjoyable. Sadly, Oregon bicyclists had a bad year in 2011, and more than 100 lost their lives; more than a thousand were injured. If you’ve been a victim of a car accident or in any way been injured through another road user’s negligence, don’t hesitate. Contact an experienced, excellent Portland bicycle accident lawyer who will explain your options in detail, help you deal with the insurance companies and fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve.

  1. The right hook. Returning again to the boxing terminology, this knockout occurs when a car attempts to pass you just before an intersection, then makes a right hand turn directly in front of you, giving you no time to avoid running into them. Keeping to your left and taking up the whole lane at the intersection will actually prevent this type of accident, because the car behind you won’t be able to safely get around you without pulling into an oncoming traffic lane. Don’t worry about holding them up for a few moments. Would you rather be an annoyance or a statistic? Keep your eyes on the car behind you as you approach any intersection. If you don’t have a rear view mirror on your bike, make it your next purchase.
  2. The right hook, but this one’s yours. You’re coming up on a car or even another cyclist who is moving too slowly for your liking. You go to pass them on the right when without warning, they pull right to go into a parking lot, parking space or side street. The collision is inevitable, and to be honest, this one’s your fault. A bicycle accident lawyer will tell you that the most obvious way to avoid this accident is to never pass on the right. If a car is moving too slowly, stay behind it until it either goes faster or you can safely pass it on the left.
  3. The left cross. This is similar to No. 1 above, when a car turns left in front of you as you enter an intersection. Being seen through the use of lights, bright clothes, eye contact, waving or shouting are the best ways to avoid this type of accident. Not passing other vehicles on the right—when you become virtually invisible to cars coming from the other direction—is another.
  4. The attack from the back occurs when you’re cycling near the right side of the lane and have to pull out to avoid a car door opening or some other obstruction. Bang! You get hit from behind. To avoid becoming a casualty of this common type of cycling accident, remember to never move left without looking behind you first. Also, you should never move left without first signaling your intention to do so. If you stay in the main traffic lane to begin with, you’ll avoid the necessity to suddenly pull out into the path of traffic coming up from behind you.
  5. Being hit directly from behind, even when you haven’t pulled out to the left is something cyclists fear the most, but statistics show this is one of the rarest types of cycling accidents. Less than 4% of all collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists occur in this manner. Nevertheless, to avoid this type of accident, high visibility and lane positioning are what will protect you the most. Other things you can do are avoid roads where traffic is moving at a higher speed, try to stay away from dark roads, and get a good rear-facing light for your bike. Use reflective clothing and vests and again, get a mirror for your bike, so you can see when cars are coming up from behind you, especially if they’re moving at a high rate of speed. Finally, try to not hug the curb. This may be counter-intuitive, but it will increase your visibility and also give you some “wiggle room” in the event of having to take evasive action.