For those who ride on a regular basis alongside cars in traffic, it can be pretty scary. We not only have to be concerned with how we are riding but also how the automobile driver is driving. That is why it is just as serious as riding a motorcycle in traffic. We need to follow steps to protect ourselves with safety equipment, clothing, and lighting to ride a bike safely in traffic.
Inspecting Your Bicycle
When riding a bike we want to make sure everything is functioning properly. We want to ensure our breaks are working properly, our wheels are not bent or going flat, our handlebars are secure, our pedals are secure, our crankshaft is solid and we have a clearance of anything we are wearing from getting caught in the sprockets.
There are two types of drivers around you when riding. There are the courteous & uncourteous drivers everywhere you go. The courteous driver tends to be aware of the laws concerning bikes and act accordingly. And even if they didn’t know the law they still give you some kind of respect. The uncourteous driver may or may not know the laws and can care less about your riding space since they are in the larger vehicle.
State Laws Are Built For Protection
There are some States that have bike passing laws for cyclist and some that don’t. Below is a chart to help you determine if you are protected where you are riding. This law provides a safe distance between you and a car that has to pass you. Varying from State to State a vehicle should give you 2-4 feet of the left of you when passing. And other conditions apply in some States like the speed traffic is flowing. Keep in mind that it will depend on where you are for the distance law if any.
Street Riding Awareness
If you are anything like me, you will ride whether it is day or night. Darkness is is the most dangerous time to ride for a lot of reasons. One reason is that if someone is going to drink and drive it will usually be in the evenings or late night. Another reason is the rider won’t be as visible as he would be in the day. Visibility can be a problem in the day or night for a rider who is not riding properly. Dipping in and out between cars in traffic is a serious form of not properly riding. By all means stay to the right going with traffic. Then you will know you are properly riding in traffic. People who are driving with the thought of the laws for motorist around bicycles will expect you to do your part as well. It’s a winning situation for both concerned.
Making Yourself Visible
There are many products available to the cyclist that will help in being visible. There are reflectors, reflective vest and many variations of lighting. All of these items will help the motorist notice you at a good distance. It will give them time to adjust if they have to pass you. Personally, I prefer a blinking red light on my rear because it will most certainly make the motorist aware there is something up ahead. The headlamp will not only give you a view of what you are riding towards but will also alert cars turning onto the street you are on that you are present.
Safety Precautions + Safety Gear = Safe Riding
Before we begin to ride we should treat it as if we were going to fly a plane. Being an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force at one time, I totally believe in the Operational Check as a safety procedure. Breaks, pedals, wheels & chain linkage is more important than it seems. Also, make sure the proper safety gear of your choice is in the picture. This includes everything from head to toe. Make sure that you have something that will illuminate and show your presence. One thing that some riders don’t consider is eye protection. If something was to get in your eye while riding it could cause you ride erratically and that is dangerous. But to follow the precautionary & preventative measures before and while riding is of virtue. I would like to see all riders continue to safely Keep on Pedaling!