“Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble.” from The Austere Academy

The more comfortable we as cyclists get with our daily routes and the ebbs and flows of traffic the more assumptions we make about the behavior of other vehicles on the road. These “everything’s going to be just fine” assumptions make us more susceptible to cycling accidents. The safest thing you can do is to completely change those assumptions. Here are three quick “if it all goes wrong” assumptions it would be safe for you to make when you’re riding your bike on Portland area streets (or any city streets for that matter). Assume Those Left Turning Vehicles Cant See You As you approach intersections with vehicles approaching from the other direction, know that left turns are the most common cause of bicycle/automobile collisions. Assuming that car doesn’t see you could save you from a collision. Prepare to make a quick right turn into the same lane as the turning vehicle if you have to. Assume Vehicles Passing On Your Left Are Going To Turn Right Another accident that happens more often than it should is when a car passes a cyclist on the left and makes a right hand turn, cutting off the cyclist. Although it’s your right to take the lane, you should assume the driver doesn’t see you.  It may be your safest bet to slow down as you approach the intersection and think through your best “out” should they cut you off. Assume Parked Car Doors Will Swing Open Sometimes bike lanes take cyclists alongside parked cars lined up on our Portland streets. Unfortunately those cars have been known to swing their doors open at just the wrong time causing serious injury accidents with oncoming bicycles.  As you ride alongside parked cars assume those doors are going to swing open. Try to maintain at least 3 ft. of margin between your handlebars and those cars and keep your eyes up about 3 cars ahead so you have time to react when they do. As an avid cyclist, and active participant in Oregon’s cyclist community, Mark Ginsberg is an advocate for cyclists and their safety. To schedule a free consultation with Mark, please contact us at 503-233-6507 or by e-mail.