Everyday

Everyday I ride my bicycle I get dangerously passed by careless people behind the wheel. I imagine this carelessness is like an addiction. Something one’s mind and body need’s to get by day in day out. Often, these passes are life threatening. Cars, Suvs, trucks all do it. Surprise! It’s something to feel a ton of steel brush up against my jacket or panniers. If you ride, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I know, I need to get a mirror and wear my helmet more often. I could die.

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6 thoughts on “Everyday

  1. I’ve found that riding an adult Trike earns me more road respect every single time- be it Delta style Recumbent or traditional Trike. That little experiment is quite telling. If the driver perceives you are out there to ruin his day by being slow, then he/she apparently feels justified in pushing. Apparently if the driver perceives you are out there just trying to get by because of being under privileged or alternately enabled or disabled, these same drivers give you space.

    Knowing this, it doesn’t always prevent me from stopping my 2 wheel cargo bike in the middle of the road in front of offending drivers with my chain or cable lock swinging in hand… or rapping on the drivers window, or yelling through open windows… -which is NOT useful for building respect!

    I have neighbors and friends who have lost limbs, or been killed on their bikes by thoughtless drivers, so I guess I’m over sensitive.

    Some techniques I have seen used that may be something to ponder.
    1. Controlled loss of control. The rider weaves in what appears to be somewhat unpredictable behavior. It gets attention, the driver doesn’t really know what to do so gives extra space. This technique is useful for traffic situations when the rider depends on cars seeing them and not passing them such as round-abouts, and some intersections and driveways where cars try to dart ahead of you to turn in front of you causing you to emergency brake.
    2. Frequent eye contact. Mirror is okay to notify you of an approaching vehicle but habitually look over your shoulder at them as if you may be slightly out of control and about to snap over into the street in front of them.
    3. Anything that gives the driver the illusion that they are actually helping you out by being nice, because you really truly need just a little help.
    4. Pretend you are invisible. No one can see you –so you– must place yourself in situations that prevent you from being smashed.

    • May I suggest:
      1. Control the lane like the equal road user that you have the right to be, not acting like you have no business being on the road.
      2. Frequent eye contact is a must. However, a good shoulder check is done while maintaining a straight line. Practice it. Control the lane and you won’t have to worry about squeeze passes and getting buzzed. You can do shoulder checks when you want to change lanes and have merging traffic. Much less exhausting.
      3. It’s no illusion. Sharing the road requires cooperation, helping each other. Shed the “It’s us against them” mentality.
      4. Riding like you are invisible, taking on all the burden and stress of staying out of the way of every other road user is exhausting. You will fail at some point or be very miserable trying not to. Again, ride as an equal road user. Visibility is your friend.
      5. Visit CyclingSavvy.org and CommuteOrlando.com.

  2. The correct way to reduce the likelihood of close passes is to control the lane. If the lane is 14 feet wide or narrower, it is too narrow to share. You cannot be expected to ride on the gutter pan, road debris, broken pavement of the road edge or in the door zone, which will likely put you three to five feet in from the side of the road. Motorists are required to give you at least three feet of clearance to pass. Most vehicles are at least eight feet wide with side mirrors. So, ride in the traffic lane. If a few cars stack up behind you because of limited lane changing opportunities, pull off where it is safe and allow them to pass, control and release. You cannot anticipate every crazy motorist who doesn’t see you, so ride for visibility, not invisibility; bright, reflective clothing, lights and ride where you are seen, not on the edge. Go to CyclingSavvy.org for more.

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