One of the mainstays of my club is Joe Ferguson, who leads our Sunday morning “A” rides. Earlier this year he got clipped by a pickup’s side view mirror while on one of those rides. He wound up at the hospital, but thankfully, his injuries weren’t too serious. Joe posted this list of things he’s learned about staying safe on a bike to our club Yahoo group, and gave me permission to share it on Bike Noob.
Several times I have been “taught a lesson” myself over the years and here’s what I’ve learned.
1. You can’t count on laws, rules, human decency, common sense, or the fear of retribution to keep you safe. Awareness of your surroundings is your best defense.
2. Flipping someone off who is blowing their horn at you rarely leads to a desirable outcome. Wave instead. It has the same meaning (if you want it to) but is less likely to be construed as inflamatory by a dispassionate observer or aggravated antagonist.
3. If an EMT offers you a ride in an ambulance, take it. Toughing it out on the ride home shows dubious judgement and you will see the doctor much faster if you take the ride than if you shower first and present later. And, you will be signing a form stating that you declined emergency service and so may be adding to your own responsibility for a negative result.
4. Even when you “take the lane” for good reasons it is not a good idea to ride more than two abreast. May even be against the law. If you have someone in the group with a good rear light they should ride in last position so as not to surprise drivers who may be (hah, scratch that) ARE distracted.
5. Not a single bike part is irreplaceable. You are the one and only you. Don’t let your ego get in the way of a good time.
6. If you live to laugh about it later it’s a good ride.
7. Truck mirrors break off (and cost a lot more to replace) nowadays but the difference between being smacked by a 1974 Ford right rear view mirror and a late model F150 driver’s side mirror is miniscule.
8. The body follows the head. Even the worst drivers tend to shift their head in their intended direction just before “heading” their vehicle that way. That turn signal may have been on longer than their Goldwater for President bumper sticker but a slight nod of the noggin makes a better indicator of where the bozo driving in front of you is going.
9. A helmet is much more than a fashion statement, it is a sacrificial offering! Get one that fits and gives both good ventilation and protection front, side and rear. They are a single use item. Don’t hesitate to replace yours if it has worked just once on your behalf.
10. If you get hit by a truck the day before moving day when you should be packing instead of riding, your wife will be more upset with you than with the driver of the truck. He’s probably the same dummy who tried to run her down in the supermarket parking lot, but you should know better!