I always thought I was most likely to get killed by a "right hook", where a car blithely turns the corner without looking and the cyclist goes under the wheels. I lost a rowing buddy that way. Or the "door prize" where a driver opens a car door without looking to see if anyone is coming up beside them. But a new study of accidents in Fort Collins, Colorado, covered by Cyclelicious, tells a very different story.
In fact, what they call a "broadside" is far more common. They are defined as " any crash when a bicyclist hits or is hit by a car on a perpendicular road." Yokota at Cyclelicious clarifies it as "That's when a motorist goes straight through an intersection even when there's a bike right in front of him". 60.5% of the accidents were caused that way, compared to only 13% by the right hook.
But what is more disturbing, well over half of the broadsides happened with the cyclist riding against traffic. As Cyclelicious points out, you can imagine what all the drivers are saying in the comments in the Coloradoan.
9.3% of the accidents are caused by the left cross, drivers making left turns into the cyclist who is legally proceeding through an intersection.
And while only 8.5% of the accidents are "sideswipes" or "hit from behind", all the fatalities but one came from this- drivers just not looking where they are going and ploughing into the rear of cyclists. Although the report defines this as "Accidents where a bicyclist hits or is hit by a vehicle traveling in the same direction or opposite direction as the bicyclist or car is changing lanes, passing or weaving." and notwithstanding the image, only 4 out of 30 cyclists were travelling against traffic.
So what can one conclude from this? That in half of the broadsides and 30% of the accidents, cyclists are being jerks and riding against traffic or through red lights. That doesn't absolve the driver completely; defensive driving is about looking out for this kind of thing.
But that in 70% of the accidents and almost all of the fatalities, drivers are not checking their mirrors, not paying attention, not looking where they are going and ignoring the fact that they share the road with cyclists. In many of those they are just riding through them as if they don't even exist.
Cyclists are in the right 70% of the time, but in the end they always lose. They deserve better.
Read the PDF of the report here, via Cyclelicious
More on bike safety:
Does Green Box Biking Reduce Right Hook Collisions?
Portland's Bike Boxes: Making Cars More Polite
New York Times on How to Ride a Bike
The Door Prize
Door Prize Lady Charged "To The Full Extent of the Law"
6 Ways to Reduce Your Chances of Getting Doored