In the Bay Area recently there has been a surge of road accidents involving cyclists and not just the much publicized ones like the recent tragedy in which a Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy fell asleep at the wheel of his patrol car and veered across the divide and into a group of cyclists, killing two, on Steven's Canyon Road in Cupertino. Besides this and several other recently publicized fatal bike accidents there have also been a ton of unreported crashes in the Bay Area (which has a high density of bike fanatics) that often send cyclists tumbling from their bikes and to the hospital for stitches, or worse.
Coincidentally, this morning just as I was reading a newspaper article about bike crashes in the Bay, I looked up to witness (on College Avenue in Oakland) a cyclist taking a spill on his bike. The cause of the accident was perhaps the most common one in urban areas. He suddenly swerved, losing his balance and knocking himself off his own bike, in an attempt to avoid a car door being carelessly flung open by its driver Luckily the cyclist was wearing a helmet and (seemed) to be okay. Although I think he was still in a state of shock as he told the small crowd suddenly gathered around him, "I'm fine, I'm fine," as he remounted his bike and shakily cycled off down College. A lot of times you don't realize you are hurt until later after the adrenalin rush subsides.
Parked cars flinging open their doors, along with cars driving too fast or recklessly near cyclists, seem to be the most common causes of accidents for bikers. And it leads me to believe that for true safety for cyclists the only real solution is to completely separate the routes traveled by autos and by bikes: have exclusively bike-only paths and restrict cars to their own routes. But in the meantime - as bikes and cars are forced to share roadways - here are some safety tips for cyclists that, although they should be common sense, need reiterating: