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As a little kid, I learned a simple rule when cycling around trucks, vans and buses to stay out of their blind spot: "If you can see the driver, the driver can see you". When stopping at an intersection together with a large truck, I was taught to look at the mirrors, if I can see the trucker in the mirrors, the trucker can see me too. This has always been a very easy to remember way to stay out of blind spots, especially on roads with no dedicated bicycle traffic lanes or where the bicycle lane isn't separated from the road by anything other than a white line.

Lately though, I'm seeing more and more trucks that don't have mirrors. They have these tiny fancy camera thingies like this, which leaves me no way of seeing the driver. So far I've just stopped at about what I think is the 'usual' spot, but I can't be as sure the driver can see me as I am when next to a truck with regular mirrors. So: How do I stay out of the blind spot when participating in traffic next to a truck like this, how do I make sure I am seen? Is there an easy rule like the one I was taught as a kid for these too?

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    There's no free lunch! I try not to enter a blind spot at all, especially a truck, unless I'm sure I can clear it reasonably and I have a back-up plan. On the other hand, it's rare that a truck pulls forward and just sort of camps with me in their blind spot. Most truckers where I live are competent drivers - getting a CDL is not a trivial task.
    – AdamO
    Apr 3 at 17:57
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    @AdamO Although I agree that most truckers are competent drivers, it's important to note that many truckers are being demanded to drive past the point of exhaustion, to the point they are no longer alert. Rule #1 of cycling: Never assume any driver around you is competent, alert, sober, or paying attention. Apr 3 at 21:29
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    @AdamO I know, I try to stay out of blind spots too! It's just that I can't as easily recognize what or where when there are no mirrors... (not just when cycling btw, but walking and driving a car in heavy slow traffic would be off-topic here ;) ). If I can make eye-contact with a driver in the mirrors, I know for sure I am seen. If there are no mirrors, it's always a guess if I'm in the 'right' spot. Apr 4 at 7:09
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    Oh, must be nice in the first world! I was also stuck in traffic with a truck with no passenger side mirror, but in a rather different sense to you.
    – oscu0
    Apr 4 at 13:42
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    One quibble: "If you can see the driver, the driver can see you" is incorrect. The rule should be: "If you can't see the driver, the driver can't see you." Apr 4 at 17:14

4 Answers 4

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Never¹ stop besides a truck, even if they have mirrors and cameras all over the place. You don't know if the driver pays any attention to their mirrors.

To reduce the risk of a truck stopping besides you, take the lane: when waiting for a traffic light or other intersection, stand with your bike in the middle of the lane.

If a truck stops besides you in the same lane, move with your bike to a safe place immediately. That can be far to the front of the truck, behind the truck, or leaving the road entirely.


¹If there is a segregated bike path (not just a bike lane) next to the road, you can stop there, but be extremely careful going straight if the truck might turn and cross your path.

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    You don't need to lose to a truck every time you ride, you just need to lose once, and your life will never be the same again.
    – Nelson
    Apr 5 at 8:31
  • Is being in front of the truck really safe? isn't there also a blind spot? Or at best they still need to check their front mirror?
    – gre_gor
    Apr 5 at 21:07
  • @gre_gor There is, which is why I wrote "far to the front".
    – gerrit
    Apr 5 at 21:29
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I for my part is a little worried about the phrase "[...] make eye-contact with a driver in the mirrors, I know for sure I am seen".

I'll claim that he can have looked at something else, and you just think you have been seen. He could have seen you, and somehow forgot he have seen you. There are many things that can go wrong in this scenario.

I'd rather go the complete opposite way: Always pretend the driver of any vehicle has not seen you!

I used this myself, and I taught my kids this: When biking (and walking for that matter): Act like if Cars (and trucks and tractors and every other motor driven vehicle) are blind. If you are in their way, you'll be run over, so don't be in their way!

That is the only way to stay safe.

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    You're certainly right about always acting like you haven't been seen, but it's still worth trying to make eye contact - this way the driver knows you know you've been seen, and will therefore have a harder time denying it later, and so will take more care. Maybe. Costs you nothing in any case.
    – Phil
    Apr 4 at 11:40
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    +1. As a kid, I once was to the left of a car's front bumper on my bike, going straight on at traffic lights. The car accelerated the same time as I did, turned left, and literally dragged me and my bike a good 20 yards up the road hanging on his wing mirror. Luckily neither I nor my bike were broken. Now the only place I legitimately assume the driver has seen me is if I'm directly in front of him so he can't go round me.
    – Graham
    Apr 4 at 13:29
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    Even directly in front is not safe. A member of a Dutch language recumbent bike forum was hit on the back of his 3 meter long velomobile 3 times because the driver behind him did not (seem to) accept he needed a little time to get up to speed. And instead of stopping across the intersection that driver drove off without checking whether the guy in the VM was hurt and whether his bike was damaged (which it was.)
    – Willeke
    Apr 4 at 19:32
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    @Klaus: I don’t think eye contact is bad. What do you do as a pedestrian when you use a pedestrian crossing? What do you do as a cyclist when you come to an unregulated intersection and a vehicle is coming from the right (for right hand traffic)? In all such cases you slow down (or stop), make sure the driver has seen you (usually by making eye contact), is slowing down and yielding and then you continue. However, I do think that trying to make eye contact through a mirror is stretching it.
    – Michael
    Apr 5 at 6:06
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    @Michael: I don't say - or think - eye contact is bad, I just think it's unreliable. My principle is, if there is any doubt that I've been seen, then I act as if I have not been seen. Apr 9 at 9:12
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Edit: I don’t think trucks are special. Their blind spots are bigger but a car driver or even a cyclist can overlook you just the same through inattentiveness when taking a turn. If anything, I think truck drivers are much more dependable in using their turn indicators (probably because they are aware of their blind spots and don’t have any false idea of knowing everything around them). So I’d apply the same caution to all road users.

Generally I try to avoid riding beside other road users. When overtaking you should give ample safety margin which will give you time to react and should also move you out of the blind spot.

At (traffic light) intersections I’m very reluctant to move in front of stopped or slowly moving traffic and rather stay behind. If you move in front, stop far enough in the front that you can be seen.

If you ride on a cyclepath parallel to a road be very careful at intersections. Ideally you should check that traffic behind you and oncoming traffic in front of you is not taking a turn (the famous “hook”) right through you.

As far as I’m aware in most regions it’s rare that a road user will overlook a cyclist right in front of them (especially if you have lights and visible clothing). Right hook accidents or accidents where a cyclist coming from a cyclepath or sideroad would have had the right of way occur more often. So it’s often the safer choice to claim your lane on the big road instead of trying to “sneak by”.

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Your initial techniques are still perfectly valid. Downside is there's no feedback to you because cameras are one-way devices where mirrors were two way. Its the same as heavy window tint when you can't see the driver.

My initial reaction is that if you're sharing the roadway with a big truck, then perhaps you're on the wrong road. Find a route that doesn't have big trucks. Side streets are often more pleasant, though frequently less direct.

That's not always feasible, so I generally avoid getting beside a big truck where possible. If they're stopped at a traffic light I might even pull up behind them rather than risk getting trapped beside them.

Pay attention to vehicle's indicators (blinkers, flashers, turn signals) When used, there's a very good chance that's where the vehicle will go.

Additionally, vehicles have "body language" and you can often predict who will turn at the next corner, then position your bike to not be beside that vehicle.

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    I have some riding buddies that work for Daimler. From what I understand, trucks with side view cameras likely have no blind spot at all. So that’s a plus.
    – Paul H
    Apr 3 at 16:15
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    For so many of us, routes free of heavy vehicles simply don't exist. When roads (almost) free of such vehicles exist they normally don't lead to to places you might actually want to go on a bike, and when they go in roughly the right direction, completing the journey normally requires something else dodgy.
    – Chris H
    Apr 4 at 13:10
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    Even where the roads are usually free of trucks they do come in at times, to supply shops, deliver furniture or do house moves for instance.
    – Willeke
    Apr 4 at 19:35
  • @Willeke fair point, trucks can be anywhere. Point there was the difference between an arterial road with trucks, and a more bike-friendly street.
    – Criggie
    Apr 6 at 21:45

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