As every seasoned cyclist knows, riding comes with risks. Poor road conditions, slick pavement, potholes and even pedestrians can present hazards. But the biggest risk, by far, comes from motorists.
Drivers are quick to blame cyclists when accidents occur. The reality, however, is that drivers are the culprits far more often.
According to Share The Road, a Canadian-based cycling coalition, drivers cause the seven most common types of crashes. And less than ten percent of accidents are the fault of cyclists.
So how and where, exactly, do accidents happen?
- At intersections: The most frequent type of crash occurs when drivers run red lights, fail to fully stop at stop signs or proceed into the intersection when a cyclist is already crossing.
- While passing: Far too often, drivers don’t exercise caution in overtaking cyclists. They go too fast, don’t leave enough space or try to pass when there’s oncoming traffic.
- When parking: “Dooring” – one of the leading causes of bicycle accidents – occurs when drivers get out of their parked cars without looking, slamming their doors into cyclists who happen to be passing by.
- When turning: Left turns are the deadliest, as drivers frequently misjudge the speed of oncoming cyclists (or fail to notice them at all). Drivers also frequently strike cyclists when turning right at red lights.
- When backing out: Poor visibility and driver inattention are major risks, and both are at play when drivers are backing out of a driveway or parking spot.
While the fault is often on the driver in these situations, that’s little consolation to the cyclist who gets sidelined due to serious injuries, or to the family members of a cyclist who gets killed. Education and awareness are foundational to reducing these risks and making the roads safer for everyone.