A common hazard to the bicycle commuter riding on urban streets is traffic entering or crossing the street you are traveling on, from a side street. This can be a serious danger, but can be avoided if you develop the habit of riding defensively and keeping this hazard in your awareness.
- Remember that motorists are looking for other cars on the through street, and might look in your direction but just not register your presence because you are not a car.
- Watch for cars approaching from the side or pulling out into the through street.
- Be as visible as you can by wearing bright colors and using lights on your bike.
- When there are cars parked on your right, stay 3 feet away from them- this protects you from doors opening unexpectedly, and makes you more visible to side street traffic (as a cyclist, you are legally a vehicle on the road, with all the same rights and responsibilities as a driver of a car).
- If you see a car pulling out, prepare to stop or take evasive action and try to make eye contact with the driver. Don't assume that the driver sees you or will stop unless you make eye contact.
- Also check the vehicle's front wheels to see if they are rolling and which direction they are steering.
- It is tempting to ride fast, especially downhill, or when trying to make it through timed traffic lights. Just remember that the faster you are going, the less time you and another road user have to react when you see each other, the longer it will take you to stop, and the harder you'll crash if you crash. If you are going to ride fast, do it defensively: be even more sure you are visible, be even more vigilant, ride in the center of your lane, keep your hands near your brakes, and obey traffic laws and signals.