Yesterday we posted five reasons motorists [should] love cyclists, so a followup with five reminders for cyclists drawn from Oregon Department of Transportation’s recently published “Bicyclist’s Survival Guide” seems appropriate. Having lived in Oregon and having ridden some of the thousands of miles of bike lanes there, it’s not too surprising to see they’ve published such a manual (one of the first things I had to learn as a motorist was to check my passenger mirror before making a right turn in order to avoid cutting off fellow cyclists) and pages with titles like this one prove the 90s are alive in Portland.
1. Be seen: wear bright or reflective clothing and use front and rear lights, especially at dusk and dawn. Even if you don’t need a light to see and make your way, these times of day are when visibility is deceptively limited and the most accidents happen. Motorists are trained to see and notice motorists, lights trains them to see and notice you.
More after the break.
2. Focus! Notice two of the pieces of advice are to stow your phone and “Tune into traffic, not your earbuds.” Likewise, be aware of the traffic around you and where blindspots are. Just like you want motorists to break for you, sometimes you may have to break for them.
3. Be safe, wear a helmet: if you want motorists to care about your life, show you care about it by wearing a helmet. If you think it disrupts the aesthetic of your vintage, or faux vintage, fixie, you’re wrong.
4. Be obvious and intentional: just like erratic or unpredictable driving puts us in danger, motorists should never have to guess what we’re doing either. Be intentional and use more than an aptly chosen finger in your hand signals
5. Remember, you’re part of traffic. This means you should ride on the right, but not so far that you’re in the gutter, in danger of going off the road, or of hitting the door of a parked car. The guide advises to take your lane if you need to, which can actually cause motorists to give you more of a berth, which seems counter-intuitive, but if a car has to cross lanes to get by you, they might think about it more, instead of trying to sneak by you while staying in the same lane. Likewise, be courteous. You might have to put your conversation on hold and single up for a while so cars can get by safely. Making motorists angry isn’t safe for anyone.
Stop at stoplights and avoid jaunts on the sidewalk. I even knew someone who got a ticket for riding on the sidewalk. In many states, you can get a DUI on your bike.