Friday, May 20, 2011

HOW-TO: 6 Tips for riding in traffic...and not getting hit

I've posted in the past on what drivers need to do to stop endangering cyclists.  This time I'm going to write about what us cyclist need to do to avoid getting hurt in traffic.  As a cyclist I'm probably more annoyed by seeing somebody doing something dumb in traffic on a bike than most motorist.  Cyclist doing stupid things only angers drivers and makes them that little bit less likely to care about my right to bike in traffic.  This is not going to cover the basic bike safety thoughts like helmets and a properly functioning bike, rather to cover behavior in traffic.

Lets start with the basics....

1.  Be visible.
This has some rather broad implications when it comes down to it.  It's about a lot more than just wearing a bright color.  While high visibility colors help, it's not the most important piece of this.  When I say be visible, I mean put yourself in a place were a driver is going to see you.  If you ride on the sidewalks you will get hurt eventually.  On the surface it might seem safe but consider this.  When a driver approaches an intersection they are not expecting to find something faster than a pedestrian coming out at the crosswalk and in many cases will pull across the crosswalk to see around the corner before turning.  Now if a rider is heading across the crosswalk they are most likely going to be moving much faster than a pedestrian and can find themselves in a rather risky place.  However if the cyclist is riding on the road with traffic they will be in a position the driver will naturally be checking and is much more likely to be seen.

Another important part of being visible has to do with low light conditions.  If you are riding in anything other than broad daylight, particularly dusk/dawn, you are very hard to see from a car.  Make sure you are aware of this fact and take extra precaution, as well as ensure you have reflectors and flashing lights on your bike.  I say flashing lights because, these will catch the drivers attention much better than a steady light.


2.  Be predictable.
This is probably the most important bit of advice I can give you as a cyclist.  If you are predicable, the drivers will know where you are going, and will be able to adjust accordingly.  Don't dodge in and out of a lane, if you are riding down a road with street side parking, don't move into the parking spaces only to dart back out around a parked car.  Rather hold your line on the edge of the traffic lane and ride straight.  It might slow the cars down a bit, but you won't be swerving in front of a Buick that way.

3.  Signal your intentions.
This ties in with predictability, but always let traffic know what you are about to do.  Signalling that you are about to turn or make a lane change will avoid surprising the driver behind you.

4.  Follow traffic laws.
When riding in traffic, always follow the same laws the cars do.  If you are turning left, safely get into the left turn lane.  If you come to a red light, Stop.  Don't go the wrong way down a one way,  don't blow a stop sign, don't make an illegal left turn.  If it's illegal for a car to do it, it's illegal for you to do it and it will add to your risk as a cyclist.

5.  Know when to take over a traffic lane.
When riding in an urban environment there will be times when it is critical to your safety to take over a traffic lane (ride down the middle of it).  In general if possible you should always stick as far to the right as is possible when riding.  This allows cars to get around you safely.  However there are times when it's safer to take up a spot in traffic.  If I need to make a left turn I will usually take the left turn lane to prevent cars from pulling up beside me.  When approaching a stop sign, it is often safer to occupy the lane to help prevent the cars behind you from making a turn across you.  That being said, as soon as is practical, get back to the right so allow the cars that are probably now behind you to pass.  Avoiding road rage incidents is always in your favor.

6.  Watch for blind spots.
Every car has blind spots.  Be aware that when approaching a car from the rear, they most likely won't be able to see you.  If you are pulling up to the right of a car, be prepared to take evasive action if they make a sudden right turn in front of you.  Similarly parked cars might suddenly pull out or open their doors not realizing you are there.  You can minimize the risk of doors by leaving enough space for a door to open without taking you out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

EVENTS: Ride of Silence

UPDATE


Great turnout, 85 riders for a nice peaceful cruise around town!





DATE: May 18, 2011 (always the 3rd Wednesday of May)

TIME: 7:00 pm

WHERE: Hundreds of locations world wide

Join cyclists worldwide in a silent slow-paced ride (max. 12 mph/20 kph) in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways.

WHY DOES THIS RIDE EXIST?

  • To HONOR those who have been injured or killed
  • To RAISE AWARENESS that we are here
  • To ask that we all SHARE THE ROAD

     

THE RIDE OF SILENCE WILL NOT BE QUIET

On May 18, 2011 at 7:00 PM, the Ride of Silence will begin in North America and roll across the globe. Cyclists will take to the roads in a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Although cyclists have a legal right to share the road with motorists, the motoring public often isn't aware of these rights, and sometimes not aware of the cyclists themselves.
In 2003, Chris Phelan organized the first Ride of Silence in Dallas after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was hit by the mirror of a passing bus and was killed. (Read full story at http://www.rideofsilence.org/main.php)
The Ride of Silence is a free ride that asks its cyclists to ride no faster than 12 mph and remain silent during the ride. There are no sponsors and no registration fees. The ride, which is held during National Bike Month, aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for those who have been killed or injured.




Host:Cycling PEI
Type:Recreational — Road
Location:Provincial Government Offices Parking Lot (Adjacent the Victoria Park Bike Lane)
Registration:No cost everyone welcome
Start Time:7pm
Distance:15-20km
Cost:Free
Contact:
902-368-4985
mconnolly@sportpei.pe.ca

Friday, May 13, 2011

EVENTS: Ride your Bike to Work Day - May 16th

Do your part to help promote healthy lifestyles, greener transportation, and cyclist awareness!  

On Monday May 16th, 

Ride Your Bike to Work


May 16th is Ride your bike to work day so leave car in the driveway, get on your helmet and enjoy a better way to commute.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NEWS: Save our bike lanes


It was with dismay that I read the morning news to find out that the city of Charlottetown is considering removing one of the only bike lanes in the city. It would seem that there have been some complaints that the bike lane through Victoria Park is causing confusion and inconvenience for motorist who now have to drive around the back side of the park before driving through the one open lane and this is preventing people from enjoying the park.

While city council has not yet decided to to bow down to a frivolous complaint, they are looking into the issue. It is of utmost importance that we do not set a terrible precedent by removing one of the very few bike lanes available in this city.

While the bike lane through Victoria park was not an especially effective commuting route, it is very essential to generating the critical mass we need to gain acceptance in this very cyclist-unfriendly city. Just last summer the city announced that they were planning on expanding bike lanes to various routes around the city. Rather than remove bike lanes, we need to be expanding them further. The more safer lanes available to cyclist, the more cyclists will be willing to leave the car at home and ride. More bikes will make it safer for all of us as it becomes more common place to see a bike on the roads, drivers will eventually begin to see us as a part of traffic rather than a nuisance.



We cannot allow the city to take this step backwards. We instead need to be pushing to expand the system of lanes we do have, not removing them. Everybody who lives in this city needs to let city council know that it is completely unacceptable to remove this bike lane.

To contact the mayor, send an email to mayor@city.charlottetown.pe.ca