Wow, that post on cycling more cautiously sure got a lot of attention! In case you missed it, my friend David reminded us in the comments that accidents can happen even to the safest of bikers, because we have no control over what a car driver might or might not do.
“You never want to make yourself small on the bike,” David wrote. “Ride like you are supposed to be there and make the traffic deal with you.”
We’re each responsible for our own safety. For those who are pulling in their biking horns a bit, that’s fine — but there’s no reason to give up on the sport we love altogether. By riding “like you are supposed to be there” you’re practicing some of the safe biking techniques suggested by the League of American Bicyclists.
The League’s website features a five-point plan for riding safely. To paraphrase, those points are:
1. Follow the rules of the road.
Use the rightmost lane and obey all stoplights and stop signs.
2. Be visible
Ride where drivers can see you — wear bright clothing.
3. Be predictable
Ride in a straight line — make eye contact with drivers.
4. Anticipate conflicts
That’s another way to say “Ride defensively.”
5. Wear a helmet
Practicing the above guidelines will make you a safer biker, and might raise your confidence level when riding in traffic. I recommend the League’s “Ride Better” page, which features all sorts of good ideas about safe riding.
But in all our discussions about staying safe on the roads, don’t forget why you’re biking in the first place. I just got back from dinner with Bike Noob reader Ramon H., who is spending a few days here in Austin. As you might guess, our dinner talk was about fun rides we’ve had, challenging rides we’ve had, bikes we’d like to have, mileage goals — all things biking. Not once in our conversation did we talk about the dangers of biking. While you’re being careful out there, don’t forget that riding is just plain fun.
one of my first flight instructors gave me some advice when I was struggling with a particular stage of training:
“this is supposed to be fun, when it stops being fun get out”
nice post Ray
Agreed! Not many worry about bicycle safety as much as I do given my position as the education director for the Austin Cycling Association, but at the end of the day, let’s not forget that riding your bike is safer than driving your car. Ride smart, but have fun.
These are the rules I live by on the bike. If I get into a situation where I consider myself at risk/vulnerable, I go down the list and ask myself if I’ve followed the rules….in those vulnerable moments, I find I’ve nearly always failed at one, and after self correction resume being treated as tho I’m supposed to be there.
I am a firm believer of you attract what you think about most, hence I really don’t devote much time to this. People always ask me what is my biggest fear while riding, I always answer the same way: unleashed dogs!