Safety on the Road
42“…spread the joy of bicycling bliss…if so much can come from unconscious or non-deliberate action, imagine what our bike commute can be like when we mix action AND thought.” Jeff the Veloteer, Bicycle Commuter
Definitely mix action and thought when riding in traffic. With warmer weather, everyone is eager to be outside: guys driving ‘Benz clinching deals wearing ear buds; newly licensed teenagers cruising while sending text messages; sleepy, overworked truckers; and people who’d rather pause than stop at an intersection.
A bicycle commuter city like Portland boasts 6 years with ZERO cycling fatalities. Some credit this to strength in numbers, designated lanes on busy streets, lights and intersections engineered for it, and motorist awareness. Most of us live in areas without this kind of safety focus for cyclsits on the road – some of us even encounter hostility when riding. Even so, we can have a significant role in our safety.
Most but not all bike accidents in traffic are avoidable. The top two 43scenarios of traffic-related cycling fatalities in America occur when exiting a driveway in front of an on-coming vehicle or when turning left in front of a passing vehicle. Of 44crashes involving minor injuries only 11% involved a motorist and of serious crashes only 24% were with cars. Of these injuries, over half were recreational users on secondary streets or streets without bike lanes. 45Other leading crash causes with motor vehicles are:
b oncoming motorist turning left into the path of a bicyclist
b motorist misjudged the space required to safely pass
b bicyclist turning left in front of car going same direction
b motorist failed to yield right-of-way at a junction violating the sign or signal
b bicyclist failed to yield right-of-way at an intersection
b bicyclist did not stop for a sign/flashing signal and was struck in intersection
As riders, we need to remember: we are also subject to traffic laws; cars often do not see us; some motorists have no clue how fast we go and don’t estimate the speed at which we’ll reach a certain point. As you’re training out there, ride defensively. Wave arms, yell, shake your head – whatever it takes to communicate to a driver not to come toward you. Force eye contact. Go only when you get the green light. Be safe!
Prayer for Commuters/Traffic Safety
“Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center she makes her speech. In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out.” 46Proverbs 1:20-21
We are glad we belong on streets for which we also pay taxes. We confess we think we own the road when what we need to do is navigate it and assume all its dangers are for us to avoid. We ask to be seen by motorists and to take responsibility to ride in traffic – eyes wide open.
Ponder Do I ride on autopilot in traffic? Affirm I must be present even before I leave the driveway. Watch the cars and adjust accordingly.
42“Green-tuesday-on-being-an-environmentalist,” posted by Jeff the Veloteer on 1/29/2008 www.bikecommuters.com
43“Crash-Type Manual for Bicyclists,” by Carol Tan from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) research study Pub No. FHWA-RD-96-104. This work was done by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.
44“Adult Bicyclists in the U.S. – Characteristics and Riding Experience in 1996,” by William E. Moritz, Ph.D. Professor (Emeritus) Human Powered Transportation, University of Washington. Revised March 30, 1998 paper 98-0009 presented at the Transportation Research Board 77th Annual Meeting, January 11-15, 1998, Washington D.C. www.bicyclinglife.com
45“Their summary of crash causes,” Funded by the US Department of Transportation, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center in cooperation with the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, as updated in 2004 by Doug Mink www.massbike.org “Bicycle Crash Statistics”
To test your awareness of seeing many things at once, Try this “See the Cyclist” Test to find the Moonwalking Bear http://www.dothetest.co.uk/ This gives you pause to ride defensively.
46The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson