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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

How Not to Get Hit By Cars While Skating, Part 2

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By Michael Bluejay

[Editor's note: This article was adapted with permission from Michael Bluejay's "How to Not Get Hit by Cars" at bikesafe.com.]

Collision Type No. 2: The Door Prize

Driver opening door in front of skater

Skater about to win the dreaded door prize

You're skating in a bike lane. Suddenly, the driver of a parked car opens his door right in front of you. Unless you can stop very quickly, which is difficult on skates, you run right into the door.


How to avoid this collision:


Skate far enough to the left that you won't run into any door that's opened unexpectedly.


You may be wary about skating so far into the left, but you're MUCH more likely to get doored by a parked car than hit from behind by a car which can clearly see you.


Collision Type No. 3: The Red Light of Death!

You stop to the right of a car that's waiting at a red light or stop sign. The driver can't (or doesn't) see you. When the light turns green, you move forward, and the car turns right, right into you.

Even small cars do this. But this scenario is especially dangerous when it's a bus or a semi next to you.

How to avoid this collision:

where you should wait at red light

Skater stopped at a traffic light

Don't stop in the car's blind spot. Instead, stop BEHIND it. This makes you very visible to traffic on all sides.

And it's (nearly) impossible for the car behind you to avoid seeing you when you're right in front of it.

Other options are to stop at either point A in the diagram (where the first driver can see you) or at point B, behind the first car so it can't turn into you, and far enough ahead of the second car so that the second driver can see you clearly.

If you choose spot A, skate quickly across the intersection when the light turns green. Don't look at the driver to see if he/she wants to turn. The driver will have to wait because you're in the way. When the light turns green, just go and go quickly. (Just make sure no cars are running the light.)

If you choose spot B, DON'T pass the car in front of you when the light turns green. Stay behind it. Otherwise, it may turn right in front of you.

If the car doesn't make an immediate right turn, it may turn right into a driveway unexpectedly at any point. Don't count on drivers to signal. They don't. Assume cars will turn right at any time. NEVER pass a car on the right! And try to stay ahead of cars behind you until you're through intersections. Otherwise, they may cut you off if they turn right.

I don't advocate running red lights. But it can be safer to run a light if there's no cross-traffic than to wait until the light turns green and the cars starting moving.

The moral here is not that you should break the law, but that you can get hurt even if you follow the law.

By the way, be very careful when passing stopped cars on the right. You run the risk of getting doored by a passenger exiting the car or hit by a car that unexpectedly decides to pull into a parking space on the right side of the street.

(Part 1 of How Not to Get Hit By Cars While Skating ... Next time: Collision Type No. 4: The Right Hook)

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Michael Bluejay is an award winning writer and publisher of several popular websites devoted to a wide range of subjects, including saving electricity, house buying and bicycle safety. He developed his bike safety web site, from which this article was adapted, to provide advice to help cyclists avoid getting hit by cars. "But of course, cyling will never be 100 percent safe, and I can't guarantee you won't get hit by a car, even if you follow all the advice in this article," he says. "Naturally, I believe you will be much less likely to suffer a collision if you follow the recommendations. But ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety." ... Obviously, the same thing can be said for inline skating.

Michael Bluejay's home page



Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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