“Look left, look right, look bike” for safe entry into merging traffic

Look left look righ look bike

Look left look righ look bike

No matter how brightly you dress use lights of the highest brightness if you are not in the line of vision and the thinking of the approaching motorist  we are vulnerable as cyclists. Being predictable certainly helps being seen along with wearing bright clothing as well as the lights that shine brightly and flash in a manner to draw attention of other shared road users all make for a high priority . Being predictable in where we place ourselves on the road surface so that we can be readily seen and see others ourselves allows for taking care and attention of the detail of approaching road user’s speed and their mannerisms’ to detect whether they are being cautious or lack thereof.

There are certain corners where risks are escalated and more attention is required for both the approaching motorist and cyclist alike.  These locations are where the motorist attempts to merge with the flow of traffic such as roundabouts to enter with minimal of fuss into the main stream of traffic.  These are mainly left turns that are not a tee intersection or coming off a service station exit on an angle to merge with flowing traffic.  This is where the problem for the shared road user that lacks physical size in being readily visible and the motorist is more likely to being looking to the far right and not much elsewhere.  A lot of motorists are focused on the amount of space there is for them to enter the intersection between oncoming traffic with minimal of fuss, loss of speed and time. Looking up past the immediate intersection well to the right can mean and quite often does that a cyclist is between their looking and entering the intersection.  By the time the motorist focus is back in front of them if they have to stop their speed is too high. It is not uncommon for cyclist impacted at these intersections to hear the motorist say there were not aware of their existence in the same space till impact was made, it is like they had just manifested.

What are some of the strategies we can adopt as cyclists when approaching these type intersections or even making a left turn of the above nature ourselves?  Like all shared road users we need to approach at a speed where we can take evasive action regardless of whether we think we have the right of way. Looking for eye contact with the motorist at all times and seeking acknowledgement that you have been seen with a smile or wave can be helpful. Selecting safe routes and time of riding can also be adopted or thought through to minimise such events occurring.

Impediment to the strategies for cyclists are tinted windows, frosty mornings where the windows are fogged up, along with wet days where visibility is low and the low light times where no eye contact can be made.  Other is just the time of day such as school pick up times and peak hour when minds can be thinking of the beginning or end of the work day.  It can be scary enough taking the predictable line such as when cyclist fills a lane within a roundabout to keep motorists from squeezing them against the kerbside and feeling as though you may well be shunted from behind to be coping with vehicles on the left that can suddenly make you a bonnet ornament from failing to see you.

Please take the time to make a self assessment of what manner you approach intersections and where your focus is and whether it is likely you could miss a cyclist.

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