Learn a New Method for Preventing a Common Bicycle Accident
Bicycling is fast becoming the most popular alternative to driving a car, according to The League of American Bicyclists. The organization, which was founded in 1880, notes that research from a National Household Travel Survey shows that the number of trips made by bicycle in the United States more than doubled from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009.
In Colorado, the organization noted that bike commuting in Denver rose 130 percent from 1990 to 2013. While biking is a great form of exercise and a cleaner way to commute, it can also be deadly, especially when motorists turn without looking or worse yet, open a car door in the path of a cyclist.
Thousands Injured in Bicycle Accidents
The latest statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), show that in 2015, 818 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes, an increase from 729 in 2014. In addition, another 45,000 cyclists were injured. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center notes that the average age of riders killed in bicycle accidents is 45, and that 88 percent of those killed were male.
In 35 percent of the crashes, it was found that either the driver of the car or the bicyclist had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 g/dL or higher. When it comes to fatalities and injuries, 29 percent of cyclists were hit by a car, while another 17 percent sustained injuries by falling.
Getting ‘Doored’ a Major Concern
When reviewing the different scenarios that occur in bike-car accidents, Bicycling magazine notes that there are typically five common situations that can put a cyclist at risk:
- Left Cross: This is when a motorist makes a left-hand turn and doesn’t see a bicyclist entering the intersection.
- Right Hook: This is when a motorist making a right-hand turn doesn’t notice a bicyclist to the right of his or her car.
- Parking Lotted: When a motorist is leaving a busy parking lot and doesn’t notice a bicyclist riding through the lot.
- The Overtaking: This is when a motorist hits a cyclist from behind.
- Getting Doored: This may be the most hazardous threat to cyclists. It occurs when a cyclist is riding next to parked cars, either on the street or in a designated bike lane, and the driver suddenly opens the door in the rider’s path.
According to Bike East Bay, Oakland, California, biking organization, dooring is the most common bike-car accident that often results in serious injury. The organization said it’s the most common due in part to drivers not looking back for oncoming cyclists after they park their cars.
Part of the problem is the amount of space allotted for both a bike lane and a parking lane. Typically, a bike lane is 5 feet wide, while the parking lane next to it is 7 feet wide. Today, however, many cars are as wide as the parking lane so when the driver opens the door, it enters the bike lane. If the driver and the cyclist are not paying attention, it can end in an accident.
The Dutch Reach
If you haven’t heard of the Dutch Reach, now is the time to learn about it. According to news reports, the Dutch Reach has saved lives, especially in the Netherlands. The technique is quite simple: instead of opening your car door with the hand closest to the door, you use the opposite hand to open the door so that you reach across your body. This forces you to look back over your shoulder and serves as a reminder to look for oncoming cyclists before opening the door. It’s a simple move that can keep cyclists on the road safe.