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Car door crashes

Anticipating is the key to avoiding the dangerous swerve

car door

As a cyclist myself I always have cycled using the principle of, "I don't care who's right or who's wrong, just as long as I stay on my bike"

So as the heading above says, ANTICIPATION is definitely the key. If by being far more aware of what's going on around me I'm saved from hitting an opening car door, a pedestrian stepping out without looking, or any other obstacle, then that's the kind of ride I want.


Statistics say that cycling is rising massively year on year and never more so since the success of Sir Bradley and Chris Froome, unfortunately the accident rate involving cyclists is rising at an equally astonishing rate. So we as cyclists have to ask, what can we do to help protect our self against injury.

Transport minister Stephen Hammond was recently quoted saying that motorists had to take care when opening their door to make sure cyclists are not trying to overtake them. It would also be unfair to say that nothing is being done to educate both motorists and cyclists. There's currently a huge publicity drive just recently launched called "Let's look out for each other", this is being rolled out nationwide with councils and local Police authorities to promote safety for all.

Having said all that I will still continue to watch all around as I cycle around town centers, and one of our easiest defenses as we ride is, sit up tall and be seen. Another top tip is to look into the cars your passing, if there's anyone in the car, assume they haven't seen you and ride wide.

Below is a few great points to ride too, have a read and think is this how I ride, if not maybe you should just think a little as your passing cars


1. Ride predictably: Leave room to move

  • Ride in a consistent, straight line.
  • Don't weave in and out of car spaces and traffic.
  • Don't ride fast into narrow spaces where you have little room for error.
  • Don't ride between two vehicles unless there is room to swerve or time to stop.
  • Ride out from the door zone - a car door is about 1.5m wide.
  • If you don't have enough room to ride outside the door zone, slow down to a speed where you could stop in time.

2. Look & think ahead: Anticipate other people's actions

  • Scan the interiors of parked vehicles for someone about to exit. If there is someone there, get ready to stop, or look for a space to swerve out of the way.
  • Be especially wary when passing cars to the left or kerb side when they have stopped at intersections, as passengers may be about to exit them.
  • Look for brake lights that are lit up (an indication that they've just pulled up).
  • At night, look out for the interior light going on or off.
  • Look ahead for drivers parking their cars.

Listen for the telltale click of an opening door: if you can hear it, you're too close.

3. Assume they haven't seen you

  • Ride conservatively and give yourself time and room to avoid a crash or sticky situation.
  • Wear bright clothes and flashing lights but remember that most drivers are looking primarily for cars.
  • Assume they have not seen you until you have made eye contact, and even then, be wary.

4. Ride according to the conditions

  • If it's wet or dark, slow down. If it's fine and bright, don't go too fast. Simple.

"I knew they were going to do it..."

So what do you do if you see a car door about to be opened in front of you?

  • Ring your bell. Sometimes this is enough to stop someone opening a door further. (Bells are a requirement as part of the road rules for bikes).
  • If you are really close, try a loud 'Hey!', but only as a last resort.
  • Failing that, just slow down and stop if necessary.

The last point sounds simple, but so few people seem prepared to do it. Stop, smile at the driver. In most cases they have not realised what they have done and are apologetic. If they have not realised then politely point it out to them.

Don't start an argument - experience suggests that people rarely win arguments about another person's driving skills on the roadway. Just point out their mistake and ride on when the opportunity arises.

The idea is to promote good behaviour and you can start with your own. If you are courteous and calm then you are more likely to get a similar response.

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