Bored of driving on the immutable routine between your house and workplace day after day? Concerned about that a car-oriented lifestyle will kill not only your pockets but yourself as the most vicious killer of entertainment? Don’t worry: it’s time to take the opportunity to have an alternative transportation emancipating yourself from the control of motorized four-wheel buzzing vehicles. As an environment-friendly symbol of freedom which modern office workers see as the superior feature of a high quality of life, cycling to work should be the number one on the waiting list. More importantly, with the inevitable existence of private cars and pedestrian on roads and the fact that nothing is fool-proof, 15 cycling tips should be taken into account before you tuck your pants and cuffs and sally out on the basis of minimizing the possibility of dangerous interactions with vehicles of any sort for the sake of your own safety.
- Reset your thinking about your role as a cyclist.
According to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, a cyclist is a participant who has the same rights and responsibilities as everybody else on the road. For one thing, know your rights and assert them. For another, be obligated to observe all the requirements for operating in traffic, such as making full stops, hand signals for turning, and not cutting across traffic lanes. Acting in a manner you should do rightly on rods is able to protect your safety at a level of jurisdiction. For instance, a serious cyclist operating in traffic understands that drivers are more aware of their assertive presence than they would be of hugging the road shoulder; thus cycling more scrupulously when they are sharing traffic with drivers and avoiding being hit by cars.
- Plan and familiarize with your route.
Plan your cycling route before commencing and always choose one with less volume of motorist or avoid the times when people are leaving for work or getting home from it as the primary factor for it is stressful to cycle on a busy road with lots of incoming vehicle on your left or right. Given drivers assert their rights to hug the road shoulders as mentioned above, you can avoid such roads with no shoulders as much as possible. When it comes to riding purely for recreation, planning your route for where the cars aren't as plentiful appears to be more necessary. As to get familiar with the route, it is never too much to memorize the road conditions of your route. If you're cycling on the same route everyday like going to school or work, knowing the route well, your alertness need not be on such a paranoia level as you are on a completely strange route but it's necessary and helpful to avoid car crashes.
- Equip you and your bike with cycling safety
Don’t ever ride without a helmet. Helmets don't prevent concussion, but they do reduce the acceleration imparted to your brain and prevent skull fractures. Brakes are also the most important part on a bike--- remember to ride a bike with only one, marginally functional brake otherwise you will regret on a steep downhill path or in an emergency that calls for emergency braking. What is worth mentioning are other necessary road cycling protective gears such as knee pads, elbow pads, helmet mirrors helping you to know what's going on on your back, if you can overpass cars or if the car on your back is going to turn right or switch lines as well as regular bicycle testing every other month lest any minor potent errors in the cycling safety accessories might cause fatal accidents. Remember, entertaining equipment like cellphones, headphones or listening to music at a low volume are prohibited or you cannot tell if a car is going to pass, turn or stop just by listening to their motors.
- Ensure yourself of expert cycling skills.
Once you become more serious and master excellent turning radius, learn to wheelie, and then just add kick-change hub gearing to your bicycle. The rate of traffic fatalities among experienced bicyclists is considerably lower than the rate of traffic fatalities among "safety-conscious bicyclists. A sophisticated bicyclist is inclined to react in the briefest space of time with the assistance of enough experiences and acquired knowledge?if a driver suddenly changes his directions and threatening the cyclist’s presence on the road. According to Steven McQuinn, a frequent cyclist, when he saw that the oncoming traffic approaching the intersection was far enough away, he suddenly became an outlaw if there was traffic also approaching him from behind, and crossed the opposite lane for the relative safety of the empty sidewalk. Legally, he could be ticketed. Safety-wise, he made a good move, reducing exposure to risk.
- Be very visible.
This is the most important thing. First and foremost, you should wear clothing like reflective bicycle vest that makes you identifiable and avoid wearing black when it's dark out. Then, strap LED safety strobe lights, both during the day and the night, especially in fogs or other low visibility conditions. A larger share of incidents occurs in the evening and to that point hi-visibility clothing and focusing on being seen are important takeaways. Have one front light set to a steady beam and one flashing at all times. Rear lights should be of several varieties so they flash at different rates. Use such front and back flashing lights facing off the rear of the bike or helmet and reflectors on your wheels that it allows you to be a longer distance away from the approaching car while that driver can still see you. Moreover, ride in groups. It is because not only a group of riders is more attention-getting than a single rider, but groups are intimidating to cars and they tend to drive very cautiously around them.
- Assume you are invisible.
To say the least, you’d better not assume that any driver will see you or pedestrian will act in your favor regardless of anything you do. People are fallible, technology does not really address this proactively, only other people can, but they are in a hurry or looking at their cell phones, or just ignorant about cyclists rights and vulnerabilities, or worse, drunk or high. That is to say, unless they look you straight in the eyes, acknowledge your presence and brake immediately to a crawl, you must assume that no driver is aware you exist regardless of precautions. Just ride as you were invisible, be hyper-vigilant and assume the worst at all times. Then be grateful when it doesn't happen.
- Act predictably.
Having ensured that cars can see you, you then need to make sure your riding is predictable so a car knows how to deal with you. You should be recognizable from afar so that the driver can slow down or move aside to give you ample space and not squeeze you to the gutter.
If you are confident, clearly show intent, do things relatively slowly (not slow enough to stop traffic but not too fast to give people time to react and see that they can react to you) so that they will know what to do with you. They may be frustrated, they may not like you but they will not hit you.
- Don't change direction suddenly.
Maintain a straight line; this is a mistake novice cyclists usually do. They reach down to grab a water bottle or get otherwise distracted, and suddenly they swerve off their line. This is dangerous because a car is expecting you to hold a straight line, so maybe they gave you a 2-foot buffer. If you suddenly swerve 2 feet to the left, there's an accident. If you're going to change direction, like turning, signal so that the cars know you're going to do this.
- Develop situational awareness.
This is a reversal of the last point, which means you need to predict what other drivers or pedestrians are going to do. Wear a rear-view mirror and use it whenever you hear a car coming up behind you. Check the car, and if he or she isn't moving over be prepared to move over yourself.? Listen for the sound of a car coming up behind you. This is called "situational awareness" and it means no listening to tunes or the local radio stations while riding.? It means constantly planning an escape route and assuming any car coming up on you is going to hit you until they prove otherwise.
- Watch out for cars that are trying to park.
Drivers are usually distracted and not looking out for you, especially if they're trying to grab a parallel parking spot in front of you. If a car is pulled over, someone is probably getting out of it, and they may even exit on the driver side. Leave plenty of room between you and the car in case of crashing into the door, going flying and wound up in the hospital.
- Check behind you when swerving to avoid debris.
You can see gravel, but cars can't. They won't predict that you're going to swerve. It may be better to biff it over some rocks or roadkill than to pull out in front of a semi.
Hear cars coming up behind you, or from a side street, without even looking at a rearview mirror or over your shoulder. Cars are pretty quiet these days, so you have to listen to?the whine of tires on asphalt. This sound is easily blocked by headphones and some ear protection, so use only very thin ear protection in cold weather, and never listen to music. Meanwhile, always look for the eyes of the car driver in mirrors. You'll develop a sense to detect when they're on the phone or to predict a right turn without (in many cases) a turning light on. If you see their eyes they see you. If not, just avoid them or wait to see what they do.? Make sure they know you are there, always assume they don't see you. In fact, they rarely do.
- Be aware of passing cars on the right at intersections and people turning left from the opposite direction.
You never know which driver is going to turn right forgetting about the bike lane without signaling at a green light or who is turning left from the opposite direction across your path, especially if you are shielded from their view behind other cars. Never put yourself parallel with a car at the moment you're entering an intersection and never barrel through an intersection at high speed while the traffic is moving more slowly: you're setting yourself up for a right-turning car who didn't think to check his/her right mirror, to take you out. And slow way down at intersections if there is a possibility that someone is turning left from the opposite direction and can't see you. Assume that none of the drivers actually know where they are going. Assume that many of them will suddenly turn or change lanes or stop without any advanced notice. Don't ride so fast or box yourself in where you won't either be able to stop or avoid people doing irrational things. The more you bike, the better you will develop this "sense." Eventually, you'll be able to predict drivers doing unreasonable things. (For example, if a driver slows down suddenly, it's likely they are about to turn or pull into a parking space or stop to let someone out. If you see their front wheels begin to turn, you know they're starting to turn even if they don't signal.)
- Always observe traffic rules.
- Obey all laws and traffic signs and signals.
Not only will you be safer, but drivers will treat you better. When drivers see bicyclists breaking traffic laws, it enrages them and causes them to take out their rage by passing or following you too closely. When the lane isn't wide enough to share or if there isn't a bike lane, if you wait in a line of cars rather than filtering to the front, drivers will be much nicer to you since they don't feel like you "cut" to the front of the line. And it's a lot less stressful too.
- Ride in the right traffic direction.
People making right turns out of driveways, parking lots, and at intersections, are not looking right for you coming the wrong way down the street. It is dangerous to ride in the opposite traffic direction.
- Focus on the speed differential.
While one can’t always do this, if you’re given the option of a road with a speed limit of?25 km/h and 40 km/h for cars, pick the 25 km/h road to ride, even if it is a longer distance, because speed differential is a mitigating factor in injury level and mortality in collisions. There is no enough bike planning that focuses on slowing down cars to the poster speed limit but it might be the most advanced infrastructure improvement that we could currently undertake to make cycling more attractive for people.
- Ride on bike lanes.
It's not a good idea to ride well into the car lane if there's a clear bike lane. Use the bike lane and ride rationally. But what might be happening is that there isn't a well-defined, wide bike lane or maybe there are parked cars intruding into the bike lane. In this case, it is better to ride closer to the main car lane so that (a) you're always visible and not obscured by things like parked cars and (b) you're predictable, in that you're riding in a straight line and not weaving in and out of obstacles in an effort to stay to the right.
- Leave enough space between you and the car.
Always ride far enough from parked cars that if someone were to open a door, you would not get hit. Take the lane (i.e. ride in the center of it) when you need to in order to stay away from car doors and/or prevent drivers from unsafely squeezing you to the right.
- Ride as fast as ensuring you of enough reflection time
Remember the "relative speed" concept. If a car rides at 70 km/h and you 10 km/h the relative speed is 60 km/h. Cars probably won't be able to react if needed, at 60 km/h they ride 16.6 m/s. Meaning: if they're close to you they have 1 to 2 seconds to see you and react if needed. When you're running faster they will have 3 to 5 seconds to make decisions, and that small difference would save your life. In addition, try to run at least 30 km/h. The faster you go, the more respect you get from cars. You'll graduate from being treated as a bicycle to receive motorcycle or even car treatment. They won't try to overpass you if they're planning to turn, they will respect your lane if you're passing others, like if you were one of them.
- Take the entire lane when sharing traffic with drivers.
In most jurisdictions in the U.S., it's legal for a bicycle to take the lane. Even in states with laws requiring bikes to stay as far to the right as practicable, the law makes allowances for cyclists to take the lane in the interest of safety. This means if you are on a two-lane road, with oncoming traffic and someone comes from behind, you will take the lane to prevent them from trying to squeeze past you when there's really not enough room. If you approach a narrow area on?the road, where there's not enough room for a car to pass, own the lane. If you hug the right shoulder, a car may try to pass with disastrous results. This may make some drivers angry, but most states have laws that afford cyclists the same rights as drivers, so ignore the occasional jerk, be courteous, and be safe!
- Maneuvering on a busy road/ traffic time.
during high-traffic times of the day if you're training and riding recreationally. Late morning, early afternoon or weekends are best. Based on general observation, it's dangerous to speed up on a busy road. When you're hitting 30 km/h or above and there's a sudden stop in front of you, you'll have to brake really hard. With this, you must set the tempo and not be carried away by speed demons on the road. Maintain a 25-27 km/h speed and don't mind the car behind you, chances are it will overtake you if it can.
- Avoid confrontation with drivers
Drivers will ignore your rights. They may even wait at a light or pull over to tell you how wrong you are to be on the street. Don't insult car drivers. Just enjoy your ride and the fact that you'll probably be there faster than them. Or point out to them what chapter of the driver's handbook for their state covers bicyclists, but do it calmly and respectfully. If you are chased by a car, get off the road and call the police. Getting the license plate is secondary to surviving the encounter. What should matter more, the safety technologies or doing more to make cyclists think safer and act safer, and making their access to rights more dependent on graduated training? Perhaps the latter would beat the former in hindsight. Don't ever forget that on a bicycle you are always in?an unstable equilibrium. Any event between you and cars will have one loser only: you. So your safety relies mostly on you. Don't make any impulsive move, but also be aware that others might be the imprudent ones. Take the aforementioned 15 sure-fire recipes to cycling safety with you and just ride!