So often a car will turn or pull out in front of cyclist causing serious injury, then claim, “I didn’t see him.” The cyclist might ask, “Am I invisible? I am wearing a bright lime green jacket.”
It is not a case of the cyclist being invisible, but one of the position of the cyclist and other vehicles on the road giving the illusion that he is not there.
Take the common scenario in the top picture. A cyclist is following the red SUV that has just overtaken him; the driver of the SUV wants to make a right turn, and is indicating so with his turn signal.
The red SUV is slowing to less than the cyclist’s speed, so the cyclist moves over to the left to avoid running into the red vehicle. He figures he can do this safely as he can hear no other cars immediately behind him.
This lack of traffic behind him is actually the cyclist’s downfall, because at this moment the blue car is emerging from this same side road, about to make a left turn to go in the opposite direction to the cyclist.
The driver of the blue car waits until he is sure the red SUV is turning, and then makes his move. He does not see the cyclist because he is hidden behind the red vehicle. For the same reason the cyclist can’t see the blue car either.
The driver of the blue car gets the illusion that there is nothing behind the red SUV, all he sees is a gap in traffic and an opportunity to pull out.
The red SUV turns, the blue car pulls out, and the cyclists runs smack into the side of the vehicle.
How to avoid this situation.
1.) Be aware of cars waiting in side roads and driveways ready to turn onto the road you are on.
2.) In this scenario, don’t be in a hurry to get around the turning vehicle. Had the cyclist slowed and stayed the right, he would have seen the blue car, even if the driver had not seen him. Also when the car pulled out the cyclist would have more of a chance to go behind the vehicle to avoid a collision.
3.) Listen for cars immediately behind you, if there is traffic behind this is your safety buffer and people will not pull out if they see other cars approaching.
The British Highway Code illustrates this scenario in rule 211. (Picture left.)
The onus is on the driver pulling out to make sure the road is clear, but that is of little consolation to the cyclist if he is hit