Safety Tips

Below Are a Series of Dangerous Scenarios to Watch Out For (Courtesy of

The Left Cross

A motorist fails to see a cyclist and makes a left turn–it accounts for almost half of all bike-car crashes, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC).

AVOID IT: If you see a car turning into your path, turn right into the lane with the vehicle. “Don’t creep into the intersection at red lights to get a head start,” says Laura Sandt, program specialist for the PBIC.

The Right Hook

A motorist passes a cyclist on the left and turns right into the bike’s path.

AVOID IT: Passing stopped or slow-moving cars on the right places you in a driver’s blind spot. Take the lane–it’s your right in all 50 states. “If you’re in the lane, the driver will slow down and stay behind you and wait to make the turn,” says Preston Tyree, who runs the Community Mobility Institute, in Austin, Texas.

Getting Doored

A cyclist traveling next to parked cars lined up on the street strikes a car door opened by the driver.

AVOID IT: “Always be looking several cars ahead,” Sandt says. Ride at least 3 feet from parked cars, taking the lane if necessary. Be prepared to stop suddenly. Keep your weight over your rear wheel and apply strong force to the front brake lever, with moderate force to the back.

The Curb Cut – Driveways, Alleys, Parking Lots

A motorist exits a driveway or parking lot into the path of a bicyclist. This is the most common collision for bicyclists using sidewalks or multi-use paths in Anchorage. If you are on a sidewalk this is the number 1 thing to watch out for.

AVOID IT: No bike-handling tricks can overcome the danger of riding on a road with numerous parking-lot exits. Just take a less-direct route. If you don’t change routes, follow the law and ride fully in the road. Most of all: Stay off the sidewalk–motorists aren’t looking for you there, Sandt says.

The Overtaking

A motorist hits a cyclist from behind.

AVOID IT: “Make yourself as visible as possible and ride predictably,” Sandt says. Use reflectors and lights on your bike at night; when moving to the left, signal with your arm; and hold a straight line while checking traffic over your shoulder, because even the most diligent driver could hit a swerving bike.


The Crosswalk Slam

Motorists often are not expecting, nor looking for bicyclists in cross walks.


1. Be Seen: If you’re riding at night, you should absolutely use a front headlight and rear light, as well as reflective clothing and reflective tape on your bike.  During the day, wearing visible clothing can make a big difference.

2. Slow down. Enter cross walks (or any curb cut if your on the sidewalk) at a slow speed. How Slow? Slow enough that you’re able to completely stop if necessary. And bike defensively, assuming that the motorists dont see you and even if they do see you, expect them not to yield unless you have EYE CONTACT WITH THE DRIVER and they acknowledge that they are going to yield.

3. Don’t ride on the sidewalk in the first place. Crossing between sidewalks can be a fairly dangerous maneuver. If you do it on the left-hand side of the street, you risk getting T-boned from a motoirst pulling out from a parking lot, drive way or road onto the road your on – they are looking to left and you are coming from the right and they will not see you until you are right in front of them, and by then it is too late. If you are on the left side – do NOT pass in front of cars looking to merge onto the road you are on, unless they see you and acknowledge you.  If they do not either stop or go behind them so they cant hit you.

If you are on the on the right-hand side of the street, you risk getting slammed by a car behind you that’s turning right. You also risk getting hit by cars pulling out of parking lots or driveways. If you are proceeding across a road make a shoulder check behind you to see if any cars are coming up and about to turn right onto the road you are crossing.

Additionally, if you are on a sidewalk you MUST yield to pedestrians. Pass pedestrians slowly and let them know you are passing with a bell or audible warning (“behind you” or “on your left”). In parts of Anchorage, the roads have too much traffic volume at too high a speed, with too narrow a shoulder to bike.  Roads like these (midtown has plenty) often mean the safer  place to be is on the sidewalk (until we get bike lanes and other safe bike infrastructure).  If you are biking on sidewalks, do it slowly and extra carefully, especiallywhen crossing the street between two sidewalks.


Practical Rules for Multi-Use Paths

Update in progress.

Safety Tips for Crossing Railroad tracks

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