Often at intersections, cyclists will call out “Clear!” or “All clear!” when they’re about to cross. This means they have looked both ways and are confident they can safely cross. But calling out “clear” for someone else can be dangerous! Just because it’s clear for you doesn’t mean it will stay clear for those behind you.
“Clear” only means it’s safe for the person calling it, NOT for the people behind her. And since lines of cyclists learn to pass messages back, I have seen “clear” get called back to cyclists who are too far back even to see the intersection!
How many accidents have been caused by a car, bike, pedestrian, or animal that suddenly “came out of nowhere?” Do NOT assume it will be safe for you just because it’s clear for the person ahead of you. Always check both ways for yourself. And don’t tell the person behind you that it’s clear for her unless you’re cool with taking responsibility for her life.
So, what should you say? Say what you see: “Car left,” “Bike right,” “BIG TRUCK COMING,” etc. Call out anything that might move into the path of a cyclist, even if it’s far enough away for you still to cross safely. If you see something, say something; if you see nothing, say nothing! And if you just can’t shake the habit of saying something, then learn to call out, “Watch for cars!” to let everyone know it is their responsibility to cross safely.
Disclaimer: No cyclists were hurt in the making of this photo.