Monday, February 9, 2015

As the Weather Starts to Improve: Look Twice, Save a (Bicyclist's) Life!

The ubiquitous slogan that is typically seen relating to motorcycles all over Pennsylvania.  Its usually followed with the phrase: "Motorcycles are everywhere."  But bicycles are everywhere, also.  And motorists need to be on the lookout for us, too.

According to a study in 2010, bicycle commuting in the City of Pittsburgh saw a whopping 206% increase over a ten year period.  The results were published on Bike Pgh's website and can be seen here.  In 2010, Pittsburgh witnessed the fourth largest growth of cyclists in the Nation!  And, that was before Mayor Peduto started installing bike lanes throughout the City. 

As we spin into 2015 - and start to anticipate warmer temperatures - you can expect to see more and more cyclists taking to the trails, bike paths, and roads.  When that occurs, it will be essential for motorists to keep both eyes on the lookout for cyclists.    

For now, as we just look forward to getting through the winter, there are some things you can do as a cyclist to avoid a car-on-bike collision. offered the following tips on how to avoid the five most common bike-vehicle accidents.  Here they are:

1.  THE LEFT CROSS - In this scenario, a motorist fails to observe a cyclist and makes a left turn directly in front of the cyclist.  According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), this type of accident accounts for nearly half of all bike-car crashes.

HOW TO AVOID IT: If you see or anticipate a car turning left into your path, turn right into the lane with the car.  Also, never creep into an intersection at a red light or stop sign in order to get a head start. 

2.  THE RIGHT HOOK - Here, a motorist passes a cyclist on the left and then turns right into the rider's path.

HOW TO AVOID IT:  As you approach an intersection, take the whole lane.  Its your legal right.  If you're in middle of the lane as you approach an intersection, motorists have no choice but to stay behind you until you proceed through the intersection.  Also, use hand signals early, before you reach the intersection, to alert motorists of your intentions. 

3.  GETTING "DOORED" - A driver or occupant of a parked vehicle opens their street-side door directly in the path of an oncoming cyclist.  

HOW TO AVOID IT:  Always ride at least 3 feet from parked cars, taking the lane if necessary.  If you can't take the lane, look ahead and try to spot any occupants inside vehicles who might "door" you.  In the winter-time or colder temperatures, keep a lookout for exhaust fumes.  They will alert you to someone who has just parked their care and might be exiting the vehicle.  It will also alert you to someone who may have just entered their vehicle and may be planning to pull suddenly out from a parked position.   

4.  GETTING "PARKING-LOTTED" - This happens when a motorist exits a driveway or parking lot directly into the path of an oncoming bicyclist.

HOW TO AVOID IT:  According to, no bike-handling tricks can overcome the dangers of riding on a road with numerous parking lot exits.  It is suggested that you simply take an alternate route with less parking lots or side streets.  If you can't avoid your route, always obey the traffic laws, slow down near intersecting parking lots and side streets, and ride fully in your lane.  Most important, stay off the sidewalks because motorists are not looking for you there.

5.  THE OVERTAKING - A motorist hits a cyclist from behind.

HOW TO AVOID IT:  Make yourself as visible as possible by using reflectors and lights on your bike at night.  Wear clothing with hi-vis colors during the daytime.  Ride predictably by signaling your turns and avoid swerving.  You may also consider a rear-view mirror to help observe cars approaching from the rear.  Avoid headphones, too.  Because, if you're wearing headphones, you are certain to have no notice of that oncoming vehicle.  

While you wait for the Spring, please be safe out there.  And, thanks for reading.

Matthew F. Dolfi, Esquire

Dolfi Law PC
1100 Washington Avenue, Suite 206

Carnegie, PA 16106


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Important notice:
The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice.  The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.  The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions.  Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice.  No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author.  Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.  

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