Bikes, Cars and Right Turns: An Analysis and Simple Suggestion For Cycling Safety
Making a right turn on a bike for just about all of us is the proverbial ‘Piece Of Cake’ and as natural as breathing. Many may wonder what else there is to know about how to make a right turn? Its natural, you see a street coming up that you want to turn right onto, so you line up your bike and you turn into it. In a perfect world we would all do exactly that because we would be the only ones on the road. Instead, we’re dealing with the not-so-perfect world full of danger, namely other road users we not-so-cooly call the ‘cagers’.
Cagers as we know are the car drivers who, for want of a better term, seem to suffer from a type of ‘attention deficit disorder’ in that they are NOT very observant of their surroundings. Cagers come in all sorts of levels of attention deficit, from the occasional radio station seekers to the full blown cell phone scroller and texted who will just simply not shut up and drive! They are some of the most dangerous drivers because they are known to crash their cars into buildings, trains garbage trucks, cars, and hapless bike riders and pedestrians. Most cagers are in a hurry these days to be someplace else, so that when you ride your bike near them they see it as a major inconvenience to give you the legal three feet of space while passing.
I’m sure that at one time or another you have all experienced a ‘close encounter of the worst kind’ by a cager near you. Here is the scenario, you’re riding down the road and getting ready to make a right turn at a familiar street. A cager is just behind you in the adjacent vehicle lane to your left and he/she is preparing to make a passing maneuver on you. If you think the car is going straight on you may be dead wrong – what I found is the cager is impatient with your 20 mph speed and wants to speed it up by passing you. But here comes the street they are looking for to make a right turn and it’s fast approaching. The cager steps on the gas to pass you, but now they have to slam on their brakes as the approach the stop sign, causing you to rear end the car. If you’re wearing a helmet you may escape with some facial bruises, if not you may suffer extensive head injuries.
I stress the fact that as a bike rider you must always be vigilant of your immediate surroundings and look behind you to make sure that no-one is too close. Just because you don’t hear a car doesn’t mean its not there, after all it can be a silent electric car. Looking over your shoulder can save your life.
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