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Turning right “most dangerous manoeuvre” for cyclists, resulting in over 10,000 collisions in ten years, new study finds

Moving off and going ahead on a right-hand bend were the next most dangerous manoeuvres for cyclists on the list, accounting for a combined 9,500 collisions between 2012 and 2021

The most dangerous manoeuvre for people riding bikes on British roads is turning right, a new study has found, with 10,070 collisions involving cyclists making a right turn reported between 2012 and 2021.

The analysis, conducted by Forbes Advisor, was based on data compiled from the Department for Transport’s 2021 report on road casualties in Great Britain during the previous decade, in order to determine which manoeuvres resulted in the most collisions for each type of vehicle.

After turning right, moving off resulted in the second greatest number of collisions for cyclists, with 4,911 recorded between 2012 and 2021, while going ahead on a right-hand bend came third, with 4,643 noted collisions out of a total of 179,737 during that ten-year spell.

> Near Miss of the Day 611: A shockingly dangerous overtake by van driver on wrong side of the road as cyclists turn right

Those familiar with road.cc’s Near Miss of the Day series will not be surprised to learn that, compared to other vehicle types, cyclists were disproportionately involved in collisions when going ahead while not on a bend, with people on bikes subject to collisions on a straight road over 55 percent more than the average road user.

When assessing other modes of transport, turning right also proved hazardous for car drivers, with 186,009 incidents recorded between 2012 and 2021. Car drivers slowing or stopping also accounted for 130,709 collisions, and being held up while waiting to go led to 112,755 crashes.

Meanwhile, overtaking a moving vehicle resulted in 14,323 collisions involving motorcyclists, while HGV drivers were involved in 3,714 collisions while slowing and stopping. HGV drivers also experienced collisions almost six times more than the average road user when changing lanes, accounting for 585.6 percent of the average when changing lanes to the left, and 533.4 percent when changing lanes to the right.

> Drivers at fault in almost three-quarters of all collisions between cyclists and motorists, new data shows

This most recent analysis comes less than two months after a similar survey of road safety figures in Scotland found that motorists are at fault in nearly three-quarters of all collisions between cyclists and drivers, while common tropes about ‘dangerous’ cyclists, such as riders “wearing dark clothing”, are responsible for comparatively few crashes.

The data, collated by Cycling Scotland, showed that 54 cyclists were killed and a further 1,836 seriously injured in road collisions throughout Scotland between 2015 and 2021.

Analysing the “contributory factors” assigned by Police Scotland to all collisions, Cycling Scotland found that over 70 percent of crashes involving motorists and cyclists were the fault of the driver.

For both drivers and cyclists, the most common cause of a collision is a failure to look (a factor seemingly ignored in Forbes Advisor’s analysis, perhaps because it does not constitute a ‘manoeuvre’ as such) – though of the 512 “failure to look” incidents, 374 were assigned to the motorist.

“Aggressive driving” and “vehicle door opened or closed negligently” were also in the top 10 reasons for collisions, Cycling Scotland found.

However, in the incidents where the cyclist was deemed to be at fault, “wearing dark clothing at night” was assigned to only 19 collisions between 2015 and 2021, the ninth most common cause of crashes where the cyclist was at fault.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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58 comments

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Rome73 | 10 months ago
2 likes

'moving off resulted in the second greatest number of collisions for cyclists, with 4,911 recorded between 2012 and 2021'

which is why, I believe, so many cyclists anticipate red lights. There are sections of my regular ride when I have done exactly that - to get a head start on the seething queue of traffic behind me.  

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Judge dreadful | 10 months ago
6 likes

I'm not one bit surprised. For many years I was a B.C. ride leader. I used to lead rides all over the country. One of my biggest considerations, was trying to make my routes as safe as possible. Circular routes, with an anti clockwise direction, were far less risky, than any other type of route. Reducing the amount of right turns, reduced T.E.D significantly.

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pdw | 10 months ago
3 likes

Why is "going ahead on a right hand bend" so hazardous?  Is it due to motor vehicles overtaking when they can't see? 

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Brauchsel replied to pdw | 10 months ago
4 likes

If I've understood, I think it's that the road bends to the right and there's a "left" turn onto another road which is geometrically a straight line. 

Drivers "turning left" see the cyclist on the left of the lane; assume the cyclist is also turning; plough into the cyclist who was not turning but carrying on along the original road.

I've nearly come a cropper on a few like this, and tend to try and hang back or speed up so I clear the junction in splendid isolation. 

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brooksby replied to Brauchsel | 10 months ago
0 likes

Brauchsel wrote:

If I've understood, I think it's that the road bends to the right and there's a "left" turn onto another road which is geometrically a straight line. 

And don't forget that the motorists never seem to think that they ought to indicate left, in that circumstance.

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wycombewheeler replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
0 likes

brooksby wrote:

Brauchsel wrote:

If I've understood, I think it's that the road bends to the right and there's a "left" turn onto another road which is geometrically a straight line. 

And don't forget that the motorists never seem to think that they ought to indicate left, in that circumstance.

Indeed, when IK was crossing such a road and the taxi driver came barelling through "what are you doing getting in the way?" "can't you finid your indicators? Shall I help you?" "why would I indicate for going straight on?"

(it's your job to get out of the way of my 2 tonne metal box, EVEN when I don't give you any hint about where I am going.)

Right, so if the motorway bends to the left, you can move out a lane or two without indicating right? because if you you don't turn the wheel it isn't a manouvre and doesn't require a signal?

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hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
1 like

They use a two-stage turn in Copenhagen for bikes, though they'd be turning left. You go straight over the junction and wait at the other side, facing left and then move off when the lights go green. I can't see that working over here though.

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antigee replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
1 like

Also in Victoria down under...quite common to turn right at traffic lights on 2lane each way roads where crossing traffic moving at 60km/hr isn't easy and essential if turning right across tram tracks. Drivers seem pretty aware that it is absolutely legal and rarely get any hassle ( well no more than usually get)...from Vicroads advice for cyclists:
"Use a hook turn to turn right. Riders can do a hook turn (a right turn from the left side of the road) at any intersection unless a sign bans it. This is often a safer way to turn right."

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grOg replied to antigee | 10 months ago
0 likes

'quite common to turn right at traffic lights on 2lane each way roads where crossing traffic moving at 60km/hr isn't easy and essential if turning right across tram tracks'.. I couldn't make any sense reading this; is English your first language?

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marmotte27 replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
6 likes

Works if you don't prioritise motorized traffic.

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hawkinspeter replied to marmotte27 | 10 months ago
7 likes

marmotte27 wrote:

Works if you don't prioritise motorized traffic.

That's why it wouldn't work over here.

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jayinjapants replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
2 likes

Same here in Japan at any crossroads or traffic lights. Right turns at T/ side junctions too, when exiting or entering we're supposed to stop on the left, check then cross / turn or vice versa. Bikes / mopeds are legally supposed to be within 1 meter of the left side of the road and no passing any vehicle in motion or queueing on the right. I've been pulled over for using a filter lane.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
2 likes

We've had them a bit, eg. Leith Walk / Mcdonald Road. They were combined with advanced release (early green) for cyclists FWIW.

https://leithcentralcc.co.uk/2017/10/13/2-stage-right-turns-on-leith-wal...

They've been replaced now because of the cycle paths. Now, at bigger junctions like this, cyclists on the cycle paths get held back by their own lights to prevent left hooks I assume. Then (IIRC) have their own phase for any direction. (Not 100% sure of the last part. What I am certain of - by comparing the arrangements on Leith to other new cycle facilities getting built here - is you never want to give that job to a tram company).

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giff77 replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
1 like

The junction of Glasgow Road and Hawkhead Road in Paisley was up for consultation to make safer for pedestrians and cyclists due to Barshaw Park on the corner. It would have totally restructured the junction with priority to vulnerable road users with cyclists going ahead to turn right. Approach and exiting out of conflict. All these things we dream of. There has been a real kickback regarding it even with there being numerous collisions on it with one householders garden wall regularly used as target practice. 

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
0 likes

Just found "here's how you'll eventually end up doing it (if you ever get that far)":

How a standard left turn works in NL (left there is the equivalent of right in the UK).  With smart light phases this can be very convenient.

A video (from 2010!) comparing the UK, Danish / German and Dutch junction designs.  This explains how the Dutch examples are made safer that other designs even if a "two-stage turn" arrangement is used.  This is because a) there's a protected area off the motor vehicle carriageway where cyclists wait to cross and b) motor vehicles are held some distance back behind where the cyclists wait.

There are also other solutions offering safety AND convenience where cyclists need to cross traffic-light controlled junctions (e.g. simultaneous green / all ways green - or for large junctions no traffic lights at all!)

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
0 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

Just found "here's how you'll eventually end up doing it (if you ever get that far)":

How a standard left turn works in NL (left there is the equivalent of right in the UK).  With smart light phases this can be very convenient.

A video (from 2010!) comparing the UK, Danish / German and Dutch junction designs.  This explains how the Dutch examples are made safer that other designs even if a "two-stage turn" arrangement is used.  This is because a) there's a protected area off the motor vehicle carriageway where cyclists wait to cross and b) motor vehicles are held some distance back behind where the cyclists wait.

There are also other solutions offering safety AND convenience where cyclists need to cross traffic-light controlled junctions (e.g. simultaneous green / all ways green - or for large junctions no traffic lights at all!)

Looks to be pretty much the same as in Copenhagen.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
0 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

Looks to be pretty much the same as in Copenhagen.

Same-same but not quite equal; detail is important here.  Difference boils down to "cycle paths like cycle lanes on the roadway" design (Denmark, UK) and a genuine "cycle paths as integral part of design" (NL) one.

In the Danish version I'm thinking of (and in Leith) the cycle path just gives up before the junction, to be replaced with paint.  (Probably Copenhagen now has a mix of designs - not been yet - but the style I'm aware of from there is more like the UK version.)

In the Dutch design the cycle paths continue - completely separate from traffic - round the corners.  That means that if you want to turn left, after you cross the carriageway you're back off it again, in "protected space".  The "protection" is the "rounded corner bits" (technical term!) which just emerge naturally from the Dutch design.

Article comparing these here.

I've pinched David Hembrow's diagram and one from BicycleDutch (Mr. Hembrow characteristically has a different idea about better traffic light designs.)

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chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
1 like

Because in the UK we're at a "cyclists are a threat to pedestrians!" stage a possible complaint about the Dutch version is it doesn't have a marked pedestrian crossing which cyclists cross and would be expected to give way to pedestrians at.  Pedestrians just cross the cycle path informally.  In the other design the cycle paths usually stop before the crossing, like motor traffic.

In UK places with this kind of design I think we're usually just painting a mini-crossing on the cycle path to get round this, with tactiles and extra "fuss" not apparent in most Dutch designs.

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Oldfatgit replied to chrisonabike | 10 months ago
1 like

The design with the red highlights... that's on London Road in Glasgow outside the Velodrome.
The wait zones are pretty small - you have to have your front wheel right on the kerb edge to let other bikes pass behind.
Works OK... except ... wait times are horrendous. 1.5 to 3 light rotations before the cycle lanes lights change to green - and then you only have enough time to cross one leg. You would be sat there for a good 6 - 10 mins if you had to cross, turn then cross again.

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chrisonabike replied to Oldfatgit | 10 months ago
2 likes

Oldfatgit wrote:

wait times are horrendous. 1.5 to 3 light rotations before the cycle lanes lights change to green - and then you only have enough time to cross one leg. You would be sat there for a good 6 - 10 mins if you had to cross, turn then cross again.

That's a stroad!  Another "it's a street, 'cos houses and shops.  Oh, but actually it's a distributor road.  No, it's an arterial (A1) as it's carrying folks in and out of Edinburgh!"

I was sat there a couple of evenings back - didn't notice anything like that?  I wasn't paying close attention to cycling "facilities" though - I did notice it was a long wait.  Jock's Lodge junction has something like half the Danish design?  I doubt I'd be tempted to stop "in the middle of nowhere" on the crossings of the side roads to make a right turn.  You can at least see a traffic light though...

I've also been "enjoying" pedantically following the cycle lights on Leith Walk (having moved to one side to allow the delivery cyclists through) although at some point I got bored and followed them.

It is not the worst thing in the world... but it certainly doesn't feel like being a first-class citizen.  Especially when you're held while traffic goes ahead (because it could left-hook you).

As per usual - we've copied a better design up to the point at which it would impinge on motorised users.  Or possibly merely look "unfair" - for example with an all-ways green phase you could have a lot of cyclists through the junction in in all directions in a tiny slice of time.

Hopefully "slow progress" though - after all still far more cars than cycles and you won't get any more cyclists without good places to cycle.

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Sriracha | 10 months ago
5 likes

A mirror definitely helps. I'm not saying rely on it exclusively, but it's very handy for getting the manoeuvre set for a gap in the traffic, before finally checking over your shoulder.

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HLaB replied to Sriracha | 10 months ago
4 likes

I don't use a mirror but a radar and its a similar process for me.  I'm able to monitor the road behind whilst keeping my eyes forward to set my self up for a gap before a quick shoulder check before pulling into it.

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Hirsute replied to HLaB | 10 months ago
1 like

I like to know if they are moving out to pass me, so a mirror check is good as well.
Bm45 as well. Which is fine and no vibration.

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cyclisto replied to Sriracha | 10 months ago
0 likes

I had a mirror in flat bars but in drop bars no decent options. If attached in drop bars ends it is too far.

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Cugel replied to cyclisto | 10 months ago
1 like

cyclisto wrote:

I had a mirror in flat bars but in drop bars no decent options. If attached in drop bars ends it is too far.

I found many drop-bar-end mirrors insufficiently adjustable to be able to either get them high enough in the bar ends so they don't just give you a view of the road surface; or to get in a position where my arm didn't block the view of them in one or more bar-grip arm positions. Spintech were the worst for this - good mirrors only if your bars are well tipped forward and you have skinny forearms.   1

Those Briskmores I mentioned are very mavouverable, both when the bar-end plug is tightened and in the ways you can insert that plug into the bars before you tighten them. They're far more manouverable than any other bar-end mirrors I've tried.

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Ride On | 10 months ago
12 likes

I have previously made the mistake of sitting on the white line waiting to turn right, moving traffic on both sides is not a place you want to be.

If I have to hold up a queue of traffic that's what I do and sit in primary until I can turn.

My slightly paranoid fear is a motorcyclist filtering just as I turn... so I ALWAYS LOOK.

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brooksby replied to Ride On | 10 months ago
5 likes

Ride On wrote:

I have previously made the mistake of sitting on the white line waiting to turn right, moving traffic on both sides is not a place you want to be. If I have to hold up a queue of traffic that's what I do and sit in primary until I can turn. My slightly paranoid fear is a motorcyclist filtering just as I turn... so I ALWAYS LOOK.

I've noticed that the motorists seem happy to pass you much closer on your left, if you are waiting at the white line to turn right...

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wycombewheeler replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
1 like

brooksby wrote:

I've noticed that the motorists seem happy to pass you much closer on your left, if you are waiting at the white line to turn right...

because the driver is closer to you and better able to judge exactly where they can drive without actually making contact.

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brooksby replied to wycombewheeler | 10 months ago
9 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

brooksby wrote:

I've noticed that the motorists seem happy to pass you much closer on your left, if you are waiting at the white line to turn right...

because the driver is closer to you and think that they are better able to judge exactly where they can drive without actually making contact.

Fixed  3 It's still pretty scary, TBH, as they also don't seem to feel the need to slow down either.

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Surreyrider replied to brooksby | 10 months ago
2 likes

And from being behind drivers going down roads with parked cars it's blindingly obvious they have no idea about the width of their vehicles so regularly end up a long way over into the other carriageway (particularly drivers of SUVs and the like), which is ironic given that many of them are happy to give passing a cyclist with inches to spare a go.

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