I would like to share with you a few safety tips that can help road cyclists avoid, as much as possible, those common traps that can lead to tragic injuries or even death. I have tried to periodically remind myself to follow the simple reminders found in Michael Bluejay’s practical web article, Ten Ways Not To Get Hit By Cars, in order to maintain a defensive attitude as I venture out on the streets. I have ridden in many different regions of the United States as well as the Netherlands. Nothing can compare with the bike-friendly confines of the Netherlands– it’s Nirvana for cyclists. Not only can you expect that half the traffic on the road consists of fellow bikers, you also have the luxury of an extensive system of bike lanes (many of which are completely segregated from road traffic), left-hand turn lanes, bike-level traffic lights, and a motor public that expects to see you and has respect for you.
Riding in the U.S. cannot compare with the ease of bike travel in the Netherlands. However, my experiences in biking in the California Central Coast area and the Northwest have been fairly free of any major incident. Riding in Utah has not been so uneventful. Maybe it’s due to the comparative number of hours on the road in and around Salt Lake. But almost without exception, I encounter at least one "near-miss" everytime I hit the road. The usual suspects? The "Right Hook" and the "Right Cross" mentioned in the article above. Just yesterday morning, I forgot, for a moment, these cardinal rules of safety, or was feeling just a little bit over-confident, and narrowly missed becoming a victim to the "Right Hook". Here’s how you can avoid that trap, according to the Bluejay article:
You’re passing a slow-moving car (or even another bike) on the right, when it unexpectedly makes a right turn right into you, trying to get to a parking lot,driveway or side street.
How to avoid this collision:
1. Don’t pass on the right. This collision is very easy to avoid. Just don’t pass any vehicle on the right. If a car ahead of you is going only 10 mph, then you slow down, too, behind it. It will eventually start moving faster. If it doesn’t, pass on the left when it’s safe to do so.
. . .
Note that when you’re tailing a slow-moving vehicle, ride behind it, not in its blind spot immediately to the right of it. Even if you’re not passing a car on the right, you could still run into it if it turns right while you’re right next to it. Give yourself enough room to brake if it turns.
I was also saddened by the recent rash of bike accidents in Salt Lake, many of which were "hit-and-runs" that occurred in situations where it appears the bikers were not doing anything wrong. These accidents cause you to reassess your reasons for riding a bike.
Instead of throwing up your hands in despair and abandoning your bike, take whatever steps you can to increase your awareness of the traps that await you as a bike rider, and remind your biking friends of the safety tips provided by Mr. Bluejay. Review those tips and incorporate them into your riding. More than once, I have used those tips to avoid becoming another sad statistic. Ride safely, be defensive, and enjoy the ride.
More to come on this subject.