People who are thinking about cycling around here often ask me how to stay safe. The traffic makes them very uncomfortable which is completely reasonable. For some reason, I have a very high tolerance for traffic. But the question got me thinking so I've been trying to observe the things I do. What I've found is pretty simple.
Don't do anything unexpected.
Some components of this are:
1. Pay attention, head up, look around and listen.
2. Follow the rules of the road.
3. Communicate with drivers as best you can. For example, make eye contact at intersections and use hand signals when turning.
4. That said, always assume they don't see you.
5. Never get in a pissing contest with a car. You. Will. Lose.
6. Look out for people in parked cars who maybe just about to open their door in your path. I've actually heard of more cyclists getting hurt from being doored than from moving cars.
I've been pretty lucky so far (knocking on wood). The only time I've every been hit was actually out in the suburbs and that, fortunately, was just a side swipe from the proverbial little old man in the land yacht. He bumped my arm with his side mirror but it folded up and didn't even knock me off the bike. I did learn some important advice from a former bike messenger friend of mine (Hi Paul!). He said always get contact info from anyone you are in a tangle with no matter how minor. You may feel fine at that moment but it never hurts until the next day.