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New Bikers: How to Avoid (and React to) Hazardous Situations


(Image Source: Flickr)

If you are new to the world of biking, it is essential that you learn how to use your brain (and the machine you are riding) to avoid hazards and potential crashes. Below is a guide to some dangerous situations you may encounter when out on your bike, followed by details of how you need to react to stay safe.

A Vehicle Turns Left in Front of You

Unfortunately, other road users are not always as aware or considerate as they could be. If the driver of another vehicle doesn’t check their mirrors or misjudges the speed at which you are travelling, they may attempt to make a turn across your path. The only way to combat this is by being very aware of what is going on around you. If you cannot rely on other road users to see you, you will need to see them, and the signs they are going to make a turn in front of you, so you have time to react. Signs to look out for include:

  • A car slowing down even though the road is clear ahead of it
  • A gap in stationary traffic which is opposite a driveway or the entry to another street

If you see either of the things listed above, you should prepare to react. Slow down a little and then keep your brakes covered so you can apply them quickly if a car appears. You may also want to look for emergency exits you can take so you can evade a crash, such as a pavement or strip of grass.

You Hit Sand or Gravel While on a Corner

If you have taken your bike out on a twisty country road, there is always the chance that you will turn a corner and hit a patch of sand or gravel. If your front tyre hits this soft surface, it could result in a loss of control. The solution here is to remember the old adage, ‘Slow in, fast out.’ You should keep your speed low when entering corners. A low speed will allow you to try and avoid the patch of sand or gravel. If you cannot avoid it, your low speed will decrease the chance that it will cause you to lose control and wipe out. Once you have completed your turn, you can open up your throttle and continue your ride.

Someone Opens a Car Door in Front of You

If you are squeezing your bike down between a line of stationary traffic and a line of parked cars, the biggest danger you face is someone opening their car door suddenly just as you are about to pass. This is a very common hazard, as the majority of people do not look over their shoulder before opening the traffic side door, especially when they presume that the stationary traffic means no one can be approaching from behind. The only way to avoid this is never to try to take a shortcut between a line of active traffic and a row of parked cars. It might save you a bit of time, but it also increases the risk that you will have a serious accident.

By remaining alert to the hazards you face when out riding, you can make sure that you stay safe so you can ride another day.