How to be a safer cyclist in traffic

posted on May 24th, 2011 in Cycling, Cycling Tips by Stephen

To be a safer cyclist in traffic it is necessary to stay aware of your surroundings, use common sense, and avoid some situations.

As, a new rider who cycled across America in 1996 with a group called PUSH America, and then got into racing bikes for nearly 10 years, many years I have put more miles on my bike than my car. Most of of those miles were on the road, in the metro Atlanta area, which doesn’t exactly rate very high on the driver ‘friendly’ cities.

In order to be a cyclist in this area, I have adopted some things that I feel have helped keep me safer. And I want to share them with you in hopes that it will keep you safer as well!

1) I nearly always look over my left shoulder as soon as I hear a car approaching. This takes away the ‘I’m going to scare this cyclist’.
A) I can do this without swerving! B) even if I don’t ‘look at’ the driver – they don’t realize the difference, only that you looked in their direction. So, if ‘A’ is a problem, just try looking slightly to your left and not ‘over your shoulder’. Just being able to touch your chin to your collarbone w/o swerving is usually sufficient – again, do NOT swerve into the lane.

This is very important – as I wrote here – today’s motorists have more distractions than ever.

2) I tend to ride on the left hand side of the white line. In other words, I ride ‘in the lane, but not blocking the lane.’ This causes you to be more noticeable, and the driver has to pass you as they would any other vehicle. This causes the driver anticipate having to ‘go around’ you, rather than just ‘pass’ you.

I really liked how Atlanta’s ‘Clark Howard‘ pointed out that after starting to drive a scooter, he then realized how oblivious auto drivers are! Something I’m sure all 2 wheeled brother-en realize.

“I will say this: Riding a scooter certainly has made me much more alert as a driver in a car. Because on a scooter, you really find out how clueless people are when they’re driving in a car or SUV.”

I did a ride recently and trying to find a friend out on the route, so I turned around and was re-tracing the route. While I was going the opposite direction of the route, I was shocked how many people were riding 2 abreast AND taking up the whole lane AND had cars behind them waiting to pass?!! Sure, the law says you can ride 2 abreast, but common sense would say ‘don’t take up the whole lane’ doing it. You maybe enforcing your rights over this motorist, but A) that doesn’t make it ok. B) what if this motorist gets starts stewing about what you have done and decides to hit you, or the next cyclist they see?! Remember we all have to share the road & some common sense will help everyone, even those you are not riding with.

3) I realize the difference b/w judicial law & the law of physics. The car is going to Win the war. I don’t try to take up the whole lane. I realize that this game is not equal. If I am not in a group and I am riding two abreast, as soon as I realize there is a car behind, I will then ride single file.

If you are new to cycling and can’t ride to close together, that is fine, we have all started somewhere – but at least yield and go single file when a car approaches. Don’t hold up another car or cyclists by 1 person riding on the far right & 1 riding on the yellow line.

I truly hope that this will Help both motorists and cyclists be more considerate and responsible in all of our actions, and keep up ALL safer on the roadways!

If you would like more tips on being a Stronger Cyclist, then check out my ebook:
Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

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