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Avoid “the right hook” and other devastating bike accidents

If you are an experienced bicyclist, you are probably accustomed to riding in traffic, either in the bike lane or along with vehicles in the traffic lane.

However, accidents happen, and as a cyclist, you are vulnerable. Here are four potentially calamitous bicycle crashes and how you can avoid them.

1. The problematic “left cross”

You must be alert to a driver coming toward you who wants to make a left-hand turn just as you approach. To avoid a terrible collision, prepare to make a right-hand turn so that you are going the same direction as the vehicle. When all is clear, you can turn around and proceed in the original direction.

2. The common “right hook”

You are cycling along, and a motorist passes you on the left, then turns right at the intersection up ahead, just as you are approaching. This usually happens because the driver does not realize you are traveling at nearly the speed of traffic. To avoid this, ride in the traffic lane, forcing the driver behind you to wait to make a right-hand turn until you have cleared the intersection.

3. The feared “rear-ender”

Normally, you will not be aware that a vehicle is about to hit you from behind, which makes a rear-end accident extremely serious. This is a good reason for having a red, flashing LED light on the back of your bike to draw the attention of drivers. Your bicycle should also have a headlight, and you can wear bright colors such as orange, yellow or chartreuse so that motorists can see you better.

4. The potential for “getting doored”

You will not be able to avoid an accident if you are riding next to parked cars and a driver suddenly opens the car door, unaware that you are approaching. It is wise never to ride next to a row of parked cars. Stay clear by riding in the traffic lane. You have a right to do so.

Next steps

Even if you are vigilant and prepared to take evasive action in the face of a potential accident, it may not be enough. If you are involved in a collision, remember one more thing: Seek a doctor’s evaluation immediately. Prompt treatment may keep potentially life-changing medical issues at bay.

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