Today we continue a series of 10 posts about cycling with car traffic. These are things we have learned from years of riding in downtown Toronto. Some of these tips you may have seen before in other places, and some will be new.
This is not meant to be a complete list… there are more secrets out there… but here are 10 that you’ll find very useful.
NOTE: These are geared towards downtown cycling, since that’s what I’m most familiar with. These all assume that you already know about proper lighting and safety (ie. helmets are useful, stopping at red lights is advised, etc.) precautions, and know that riding on sidewalks is one of the most unsafe things you can do, for both pedestrians and yourself.
Past tips are found at the bottom of this post.
9. Avoid the Right Hook
One of the most common places that car-bike collisions happen is at intersections, and more commonly, when a car is turning right.
Being hit (or you riding into) a right-turning car is sometimes nicknamed the “Right Hook”, and the best way to avoid it is to not pass a car on the right hand side if it is turning right.
If you see a car waiting to turn right and you’re about to pass on the right hand side, the best thing for you to do is to slow down or stop and wait for the car to complete the turn. The rear-right blindspot to a driver is huge, and if a driver is not being especially vigilant, they will miss you approaching from behind on that side. So, slow down or stop and wait for them to complete the turn.
If the road is not busy and you have the option, head around the car on the left side to continue through the intersection.
The only, ONLY, exception to this rule is if you are 100% sure that a driver knows you are there on their right and are being nice and waiting for you to pass before they complete their turn. You’ll find nice drivers like this a lot downtown, as they are used to cyclists being everywhere. You still need to be careful and pass them with caution, and be sure to thank them as you go by (with a handwave, or verbally if their windows are open).
Another way the Right Hook can happen is if a car turns right in front of you as you are approaching a cross street (a non-signalled one). The best way to be prepared for something like this is to stay aware of what is around you. When approaching a cross street, look around you to re-affirm where cars are so that none of them catch you unawares.
Check out the full “10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic” series:
- Drivers Don’t Want to Kill You
- Ride in a Straight Line
- Play by the Rules
- Avoid the “Stoplight Squeeze”
- Signal Sensibly
- Take That Lane
- Make Them THINK You’re Unpredictable
- Ride With Others
- Avoid the Right Hook
- Practice Your Route
- Title Photo from 416CycleStyle on Flickr