Cyclists hit by turning trucks is a repeating news story which highlights the most serious deficiency in our system — education of cyclists. Sometimes these crashes are caused by the truck driver passing a cyclist prior to turning right, but they are also caused by the cyclist passing the truck on the right. In both cases, the cyclist has the power to avoid the crash.
Here’s how YOU can keep this from happening to you:
- Do not stop at an intersection on the right side of a truck. If you have already stopped in a bike lane and a big rig pulls up next to you, don’t assume the driver has seen you. Get off your bike and move it to safety (your life is worth the inconvenience). It’s better to stop in the middle of the general traffic lane if you arrive first. (In many cases it’s safer to stop in the line of traffic than to pass the queue.)
- Do not linger next to a truck on any side, in any lane. If you are riding near the same speed, slow until you are behind the truck. (This is taught to motorcyclists, it applies to all vehicle drivers, even car drivers!)
- If a truck passes you, slow down and let it get ahead of you ASAP. If you are approaching an intersection, merge to the left and ride near the center line to avoid the moving blind spot. See CRASH! Avoiding the Dreaded Left-Cross.
- If you are in a bike lane and passing stopped traffic, do not pass a truck unless you can be clear of it before approaching any intersections or driveways and before traffic begins moving again. (This is a case where bike lanes offer a false sense of security that can get a cyclist killed.)
- Or, just don’t pass a truck on the right at all. And be cautious when passing on the left, too.
Trucks make wide turns. They cannot physically make a right turn from the right curb, so they will often leave a large, inviting opening on their right prior to a turn. They will also move straight into the intersection before starting to turn. When a truck turns right across your path, it is almost impossible to escape its rear wheels. So don’t get caught in a spot where this can happen! Be aware of what kind of situation can lead to a potential crash and avoid it.
Don’t miss CyclingSavvy co-founder Keri Caffrey’s July 2018 post on this topic.
Explore the interactive graphic below to learn more about trucks.