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Riding Your Bike Safely

Randy DeVaul

Posted on July 5, 2019 13:40

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Bicyclists and drivers, learn some road rules, please! Wearing spandex tights and a helmet may help you think you look the cyclist part, but drivers are now more distracted than ever. Get tangled with a car and you still lose. Respect where you are and ride safely.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have helmet requirements for bike riding.  We knew there were some inherent dangers – going down steep hills, riding in the road with traffic, hitting potholes (numerous in my neighborhood), getting caught in the bike fork (front tire) if pedaling too fast, as examples.

As a result, I was also taught road etiquette and the ‘rules of the road’ that included respecting cars, knowing what side of the road to ride on, hand signals for making turns, and knowing that whether I had the right of way or not, it really didn’t matter if a car ended up taking me out!

It seems today that anyone riding a bike in the road whole-heartedly believes that he or she has the right of way and all vehicles in traffic must bow down to the bike.  We hear about motorcycle fatalities regularly and those operating them actually DO have the right of way, yet operators of other vehicles still kill them. 

From a safety perspective, do not ever assume on a bicycle that you ever have the right of way and that all other drivers will honor that.  Won’t happen!

So, to stay alive and improve your odds of bicycling yet another day, here are safety tips to consider.

1)      You cannot outrun a vehicle.  Assume that you do NOT have the right of way.

2)      Wear your helmet.  Yes, many of us survived growing up without one but we also had drivers who knew the rules, too.

3)      Be aware of your lane surroundings.  If you plan on riding in the road, have a rear-view mirror to keep tabs on traffic around you.

4)      Light up you and/or your bike.  If people don’t see you, you will become a statistic.

5)      Keep your headsets at home.  If you can’t hear traffic around you, plan to become a statistic.

6)      Try some of your own road courtesy.  Riding the middle of the lane in a 55-mph speed zone area will encourage others to ‘help’ you get out of the way.

7)      Take your lane.  This may sound in conflict with the above rule, but in town, it is safer to keep in the middle of the lane for others to see you better and for you to not get ‘doored’ by a parked car on the right.

8)      Signal your turns at intersections.  Stick your arm straight out to the side and point to indicate that is where you are going.  Use your left arm to go left, your right arm to go right. Years ago we learned how to indicate making a right turn with the left hand.  Since most drivers don’t have a clue anymore of what that should mean, just point with your right hand.  It’s not like you have to reach through the passenger window.

Riding a bike is a privilege, not a right.  A little common sense will keep you safe while enjoying the ride.

Randy DeVaul

Posted on July 5, 2019 13:40

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