How To Avoid A Crash

How Can a Motorist Avoid Hitting a Cyclist?

By: Kenneth J Knabe, Bicycle Accident Attorney: Protecting Cleveland’s Cyclists, 216 228 7200

As a bike attorney many concerned motorists ask me how can I avoid hitting a cyclist.

Most bicycle crashes occur when a driver:

  • Turns left at an intersection into an oncoming cyclist;
  • Turns right at an intersection and “hooks” a cyclist proceeding straight through the intersection;
  • Fails to see a cyclist and hits the cyclist from behind;
  • Fails to see the cyclist when pulling out from a stop sign, side street or parking lot; and
  • Passes and sideswipes a cyclist by failing to allow a safe distance when passing. Cleveland has a three foot safe passing distance rule (Cleveland Ordinance §431.03). On April 13, 2015, House Bill 154 was reintroduced to require the three foot rule be passed as a state law. The bill has previously failed in the Legislature. Contact your state representative or senator to show your support.

Lessons learned:

  • Motorists should keep a much better look out for cyclists in the situations above.
  • Motorists should look THREE ways before proceeding from a stop sign, turning left or right on red. Look both ways for cars and scan for bicycles!
  • Motorists should keep at least a 3 foot distance when passing any cyclist on the road.

How Can a Cyclist Avoid Being Hit by a Motorist?


As a bike attorney many concerned fellow cyclists ask me how they can avoid being hit by a motorist.

A cyclist can help avoid getting hit by a motorist by following these guidelines:

  • Ride in the direction of traffic (Ohio Revised Code §4511.25).
  • Obey traffic rules of the road. A bicycle is defined as a vehicle under Ohio Law (Ohio Revised Code 4501.01 (A) and 4511.01(A)).
  • Ride as if you were a motor vehicle (i.e. stop at stop signs, red lights and yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk). Cyclists who follow these two rules are in 75% less accidents.
  • Stay visible by wearing contrasting and reflective clothing.
  • At night, you must have a white light in front and a red in the back beginning an hour before sunrise and sunset (Ohio Revised Code §4511.56).
  • Keep vigilant – avoid using headphones.
  • Try to make eye contact with the driver to make sure the driver sees you before pulling out in front of you.
  • Don’t hesitate to yell or use a bell to make your presence known.
  • Ride to the right of the lane unless a dangerous or hazardous condition exists (Ohio Revised Code §4511.55 (A) & (C)).
  • Don’t be afraid to take the entire lane when there is insufficient room in the lane for the driver to pass you safely.

Remember: Wear a helmet! Although not mandatory, most deaths occur to cyclists not wearing helmets.