Safety & Education

Car Bike Collisions

Understanding Types of Collisions

The City of Toronto undertook a study, to better understand the most common types of collisions between motor- vehicles and bicycles in Toronto.  

Understanding and anticipating the traffic dynamics which can lead to a collision can help cyclists avoid a collision.  Factors, such as darkness and wet weather will also contribute to accidents on the road.

Browse the tabs below for an overview of different types of collisions, or read the full study.

Motorist turning right collides with cyclist travelling in parallel direction

Key problems:

  • motorist overtakes cyclist just before turning right
  • cyclist tries to pass to the right of right-turning motorist
  • cyclist riding on the sidewalk fails to stop and yield to turning vehicles at intersection

To avoid:

  • look ahead for turn signals
  • watch out for drivers slowing down in preparation for a right turn
  • stay away from the driver's "blind spot" (near the right rear wheel)
  • do not pass right-turning drivers on the right
  • use the road, not the sidewalk, to be more noticeable to motorists

Vehicle occupant opens door in cyclist's path; cyclist collides with door. This occurs almost exclusively on central arterial roads.

Key problems:

  • motorist does not look before opening door

To avoid:

  • when passing parked vehicles, ride at least one metre away
  • shoulder-check and signal if you have to move further left
  • look for people in parked vehicles; be prepared to stop suddenly
  • slow down in areas with high-turnover parking (main streets, restaurant & retail areas)

Motorist turning left collides with cyclist approaching from opposite direction

Key problems:

  • driver does not detect cyclist in time to avoid collision
  • darkness and obstructed sight-lines relatively frequent factors
  • most common on downtown streets, less frequent in suburbs

To avoid:

  • be visible: wear bright clothing; use a headlight at night; ride in a predictable position
  • look ahead for left-turning vehicles
  • be prepared to stop suddenly if you cannot make eye contact with an on-coming driver, or if it seems the driver has not noticed you (e.g., the vehicle does not appear to be slowing down)

Motorist overtaking cyclist, collides with cyclist. This is more common on downtown streets than in the suburbs.

Key problems:

  • motorist misjudges passing space

To avoid:

  • position yourself so that you are clearly visible to motorists approaching from behind
  • ride in a straight line (don't weave towards the curb between parked cars)
  • if there is not enough space to share the lane safely with another vehicle, it is legal to ride near the centre of the lane, so that drivers must wait or change lanes to overtake
  • always shoulder-check before changing your line of travel
  • be visible: wear bright clothing, use reflectors and a rear light at night

Motorist emerges from driveway or lane, collides with cyclist crossing their path. This kind of collision generally happens as a result of cyclists riding on the sidewalk, and is more common in the suburbs.

Key problems:

  • motorist does not stop before crossing sidewalk
  • cyclist riding too fast on sidewalk

To avoid:

  • ride on the road, not the sidewalk where motorists don't expect bicycles
  • ride farther from the curb, to be more noticeable to motorists
  • use a headlight at night
  • be extra-cautious around busy parking lot entrances