Cycling Safety Tips

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The other day I was riding my Jordan Lake loop, when I almost got hit by a pickup truck trailing a boat. The guy passed me at full speed, cutting me off as he swerved in front of me without taking into account the size of his boat. Idiot!

I usually ride about two feet from the edge of the pavement, irregardless of the location of the painted line. This gives me room to maneuver when needed. Maybe I ought to ride further left to force cars to move over when passing me. Where do you ride? Post a comment.

I found a great website describing cycling safety tips, called “How Not to Get Hit by a Car”. Here’s Tip #1:
Collision Type #1: The Right Cross

This is one of the most common ways to get hit (or almost get hit). A car is pulling out of a side street, parking lot, or driveway on the right. Notice that there are actually two possible kinds of collisions here: Either you’re in front of the car and the car hits you, or the car pulls out in front of you and you slam into it.

How to avoid this

bikelamp.jpg1. Get a headlight.
If you’re riding at night, you should absolutely use a front
headlight. It’s required by law, anyway. Even for daytime
riding, a bright white light that has a flashing mode can
make you more visible to motorists who might otherwise Right
Cross you. Look for the new LED headlights which last ten
times as long on a set of batteries as old-style lights. And
helmet- or head-mounted lights are the best, because then
you can look directly at the driver to make sure they
see your light.

2. Honk. Get a loud horn and USE IT whenever you see a car
approaching (or waiting) ahead of you and to the right. If
you don’t have a horn, then yell “Hey!” You may feel awkward
honking or yelling, but it’s better to be embarrassed than
to get hit. Incidentally,
the UK requires bells on bicycles.

3. Slow down. If you can’t make eye
contact with the driver (especially at night), slow down so
much that you’re able to completely stop if you have to.
Sure, it’s inconvenient, but it beats getting hit. Doing
this has saved my life on too many occasions to

4. Ride further left.
Notice the two blue lines
“A” and “B” in the diagram. You’re probably used to riding
in “A”, very close to the curb, because you’re worried about
being hit from behind. But take a look at the car. When that
motorist is looking down the road for traffic, he’s not
looking in the bike lane or the area closest to the curb;
he’s looking in the MIDDLE of the lane, for other cars. The
farther left you are (such as in “B”), the more likely the
driver will see you. There’s an added bonus here: if the
motorist doesn’t see you and starts pulling out, you may be
able to go even FARTHER left, or may be able to speed up and
get out of the way before impact, or roll onto their hood as
they slam on their brakes. In short, it gives you some
options. Because if you stay all the way to the right and
they pull out, your only “option” may be to run right into
the driver’s side door. Using this method has saved me on
three occasions in which a motorist ran into me and I wasn’t
hurt, and in which I definitely would have slammed into the
driver’s side door had I not moved left.

Of course, there’s a tradeoff.
Riding to the far right makes you invisible to the motorists
ahead of you at intersections, but riding to the left makes
you more vulnerable to the cars behind you. Your actual lane
position may vary depending on how wide the street is, how
many cars there are, how fast and how close they pass you,
and how far you are from the next intersection. On fast
roadways with few cross streets, you’ll ride farther to the
right, and on slow roads with many cross streets, you’ll
ride farther left.

Read the rest of this article at http://www.bicyclesafe.combikesafe-banner.gif

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Posted in >Biking
6 comments on “Cycling Safety Tips
  1. Wheelies says:

    It goes without saying that the most important peace of safety equipment you can have is your helmet. Make sure it’s on properly because it will save your life.

    I find that by looking like your constantly aware of your surroundings, drivers notice that your not just blitzing through expecting to be waited for because you’re on a bike, and they are actually more cautious.

  2. jonathan says:

    Crumbs, do you have a link to those studies because as a driver, I have noticed the opposite. Novice bikers in particular seem to be really defensive and I have always found the best way is to be “cautiously aggressive”

    I also think that when a cyclist goes past with shirt full of adverts, sunglasses, bright coloured helmet etc – that there is a teensy bit of jealousy in there….

  3. Crumbs says:

    I use my bike as my main transportation in Miami (hands down, some of the most dangerous, often unlicensed folks around), almost always with my son on back. I’ve learned a few tricks to keep us alive.
    The most valuable is when I hear a fast car or a big vehicle approaching, I wobble. I swerve my bike a little erratically, just enough to make the driver wonder if I might go into the middle of the lane. It just takes a couple seconds and not enough to slow me down. Cars give you a WIDE berth if they think your an uncoordinated biker. There are studies to prove this, too.
    I’ve got many more tricks, but I live in a viciously rude town, so…when in Rome.
    (In tight squeezes, I hold my keys out to threaten paint jobs – I grew up in Seattle, I swear this town has turned me into a monster!)

  4. Mike Ash says:

    you could always carry a paintball gun with you and mount it to your tri-bars and when people come too close, make the side of their car rainbow colors. It might not be the BEST idea, and it might end up in jail or even getting beat up by a car full of people, but it would FEEL pretty stinkin’ good!

  5. Carol says:

    I also find that moving farther left forces cars to go around you, so they end up not passing so close. That website recommends a mirror…that doesn’t appeal to me, but maybe I ought to give that a try. I’ve also seen a couple old geezers riding touring bikes with horizontal orange flags sticking about 2 feet out into the lane. Much as that looks dorky, it seems like a really good idea to me.

  6. Bob Little says:

    I ride about 18 inches from the right, but when I hear a car I move over as far right as I can just before the car comes. I ride in the country, so my only fear is being hit from behind. I usually have one vechicle that does not move over on each ride long Sunday ride. I still have a foot of room between me and the car, but the close call makes me mad at the laziness of the driver.

    My wife likes to go carriage driving, and we learned that if you move over, cars actually get closer to you, but if you stay in your lane, they take the time to check if they can pass and move over to the next lane and give you plenty of room (most times).


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