San Diego Bicycle Intersection Safety Tips

California Bicycle Injury Lawyer Explains Safe Cycling Practices

If you are a cyclist in San Diego, you probably ride through intersections on a regular basis. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 30 percent of all bike vs. car accidents happen at intersections. Therefore, negotiating these crossroads is an important bike riding skill for cyclists to master. Proper planning and positioning can help cyclists biking in San Diego make safe right and left hand turns or ride through intersections. Cultivating these skills, having a bike in good repair and following California bicycle laws may help you avoid a San Diego bike accident. Below, bicycle injury lawyer Frederick M. Dudek explains the best bicycle intersection safety rules and tips for your next ride.

Bicycle Intersection Safety Rules: Right Turns

Intersections may be particularly hazardous for cyclists simply because they are already busy areas. Traffic signals, turning vehicles and oncoming traffic can all split a driver’s attention, meaning that he or she may be less likely to notice a cyclist. This is often especially true if the cyclist is turning, since most bicycles lack lighted turn signals to indicate this intent. However, when biking in San Diego, there are certain intersection safety practices that can reduce your risk of serious bike accident injuries when turning.

When making a right turn, you should take care to mimic the rules automobiles must follow and avoid being caught in a blind spot. Therefore, good bicycle intersection safety rules for right turns include:

  • Always turn at stop signs or traffic lights. Like cars, cyclists may make a right turn at a red light, unless the intersection is otherwise marked.
  • Yield to traffic approaching from the left, including pedestrians.
  • Ride in the middle of narrow roads and signal right turns by pointing with your right arm.
  • At a stop light, avoid pulling into the blind spot of a stopped car in the right lane. The car may turn right on green, crashing into you whether you turn or continue straight.

Bicycle Intersection Safety Rules: Left Turns

Turning left through an intersection, especially a busy one, can be even more challenging than a right turn. In the first place, a cyclist must move across multiple lanes before making a left-hand turn. Therefore, safety rules for cyclists making left turns through intersections include:

  • Make each lane change a two-step process. Move to the inside of the lane line, and then go to the far side of the lane. Continue in this manner until you reach the left turn lane.
  • At each signal, turn your head to observe the car or bike traffic behind you, and negotiate your positioning with motorists. However, keeping the bike steady when you turn your head can be a challenge for novice riders.
  • Always try to make eye contact with drivers when changing lanes or waiting to turn. This technique is one of the best ways to avoid getting involved in a San Diego bicycle accident.
  • When riding in left turn lanes that also handle “through” traffic, position your bicycle in the center of the lane (just as a motor vehicle would). In “left-turn only” lanes, locate your bicycle to the center or the right-hand side of the lane.
  • Do not allow room for vehicles turning left to pass you on the right.
  • Make a deliberate signal with your right hand to make drivers aware of your intentions.
  • Ride straight ahead and enter the middle of the intersection. Turn into the far right side of your target lane. Allow left turning cars to move to your left.

Bicycle Intersection Safety Rules: Riding Through Intersections

If you are cycling straight through an intersection, take steps to stay visible to turning drivers. To ensure that you get through intersections safely, you should:

  • Stay out of right turn only lanes if you are crossing straight through an intersection. Vehicles turning right should only pass you on the right side. In lanes marked for “right hand turns” and through traffic, position yourself to the left side of the lane if there is room for you and a motor vehicle. Sometimes, this means moving into the second or third lane to your left.
  • Avoid passing the first vehicle when traffic comes to a stop. Permit the first driver to make his or her move and survey the road for pedestrians, vehicles and other cyclists and then continue.
  • Position yourself in the intersection and focus your attention on the traffic before you. Be aware of drivers who forget to signal or yield, or decide not to make a turn.

Hurt in a San Diego Bike Accident at an Intersection? Call Our Attorney Now

San Diego bicycle injury lawyer Frederick M. Dudek, a bicycle commuter, has more than 35 years of experience biking in San Diego, throughout California and several other states. He offers this resource to you and all San Diego cyclists to help prevent bicycle injuries, educate cyclists and drivers about the bike laws in California and provide bicycle intersection safety tips.

If you or someone you care for suffered personal injury or property damage in a bike accident due to a negligent motorist, refer to our bike safety resource to learn a cyclist’s legal rights. Otherwise, contact our bicycle accident attorney to schedule a free, no obligation accident review to discuss your potential bicycle accident claim today.