Cyclist has near miss with car bumper in roundabout

Roundabouts are replacing traditional intersections in Ontario, Canada, as well as parts of the USA. Having been long proven in the UK as a way to increase safety and promote traffic flow, they are saving time as well as lives. But, because they are new, driver error is still causing problems, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the rules of the road.

Highway rules are established to make driving safer and more predictable for everyone. When the other driver does what we expect he should do, it means that traffic flows without collisions. In almost every traffic collision, somebody has broken at least one rule. Roundabouts have their rules too. The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario states that drivers entering the roundabout must yield to the traffic entering on their left. They have the right of way over traffic to their right. If entering the intersection will affect a car on the left, the driver on the right is required to adjust their speed or even stop so that no evasive action is required. Anything less is a clear case of failing to yield the right of way.

Cycling can be a hazardous means of transportation. Being smaller, they are sometimes overlooked. Drivers naturally underestimate their speed as well and they often pull out in front of a cyclist. This cyclist is approaching the roundabout where both roads have a posted speed limit of 80km/h, or 50mph. Entering the roundabout too slowly causes the risk of attracting aggression from drivers behind. He is coming down a hill at almost 30mph, looking carefully to his left. Nothing is coming and it is his right to enter the roundabout. He is aware of a pickup truck closer behind him than would be considered polite. He is also aware of the traffic approaching from the right, but they are required to stop or slow down until he passes.

The driver of the red car has been at a stop to wait for the large truck that was in the intersection at the start. It appears that the driver didn't look to the left because they pulled out in front of the cyclist. Trying to watch everything at once, he catches on after a moment that the red car is now in his path and it is moving slowly enough that he has to hit the brakes.

The cyclist is riding a bike with skinny racing tires and tiny brake calipers. He squeezes the brakes hard but he cannot risk skidding while banking for the corner or his bike will slide out from under him and he will be in even more danger of being struck. Even if a car does not hit him, sliding on the pavement will cause extreme road rash and other injuries. His eyes are locked on the rear bumper of the red car and his front wheel misses it by mere inches.

He cannot risk glancing to the right to see if the SUV has followed the red car into the roundabout. He also cannot risk a look over his shoulder to see if the truck behind him is stopping. Luckily, he is able to clear the roundabout without being struck.

Incidents like this one are very common for cyclists. Whether it is a lack of attention or a lack of consideration, drivers frequently frighten cyclists with near misses that they are probably not even aware of. And in fairness, many cyclists drive in a dangerous manner, creating frustration from motor vehicle drivers.