Well, yeah, that can happen. It can also happen if you're walking down the street, or you're in a car. But there are a lot of ways to avoid the problems inherent when bikes meet cars in a public street. And the folks at Bicycle Safety have listed a bunch of them.
This link is also on the right under General Bike Commuting Sites, as I want it to stay there even when this post has moved down the page and into the archive.
There are a few things to take note of on this site:
- TAKE THE LANE. You have just as much right to be on the road as a car, and the law says that you only have to stay as far to the right as is PRACTICABLE. So take the lane. Don't worry about holding up traffic, your safety is more important than someone else's desire to go fast.
- BE VISIBLE. I can't stress this enough. Get lights for your bike - headlights, rear blinkers. Get the proper reflectors for your wheels. And wear something that increases your visibility: a yellow or lime green jacket or a reflective vest.
- OBEY THE TRAFFIC LAWS. Riding on the sidewalk or against traffic are great ways to get yourself into an accident.
- GET A MIRROR. Being able to see behind you is key as a cyclist - you can generally see cars but they won't notice you all the time.