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General tips on how NOT to get hit by cars

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  • General tips on how NOT to get hit by cars

    Avoid Busy Streets.

    One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they start biking is to take the exact same routes they used when they were driving. It's usually better to take the streets with fewer and slower cars. Sure, cyclists have a right to the road, but that's a small consolation when you're dead. Consider how far you can take this strategy: If you learn your routes well, you'll find that in many cities you can travel through neighborhoods to get to most places, only crossing the busiest streets rather than traveling on them.


    Light Up.

    Too obvious? Well, if it's so obvious, then why do most night-time cyclists ride without lights? Bike shops have rear red blinkies for $15 or less. If even that's too much for you, then I have some cheap $5 red blinkies. Headlights aren't quite so easy, because most bike headlights have sorry battery life (usually only a few hours of run time). One solution is the $30 LightWave flashlight, which runs for 15 hours on rechargeable AA batteries (even longer on alkalines). The secret to the long battery life is that the light comes from four white LED's, which lightly sip battery juice compared to standard incandescent lights. You'll need to rig up a way to mount the flashlight to your handlebars, because it's not designed with bikes in mind.


    Ride As If You Were Invisible.

    Assume that motorists don't know you're there and ride in such a way that they won't hit you even if they don't see you. You're not trying to BE invisible, you're trying to make it irrelevant whether cars see you or not. If you ride in such a way that a car has to see you to take action to avoid hitting you (e.g., by their slowing down or changing lanes), then that means they will definitely hit you if they don't see you! But if you stay out of their way, then you won't get hit even if they didn't notice you were there.


    On very fast roads, cars will have less time to see you because they're approaching you so fast. Now, you should avoid fast roads in the first place if at all possible, unless there's plenty of room for a car and a bike side by side. And if there IS such room, then on fast roadways, you can practice invisibility by riding to the extreme right. If you're far enough right that you're not in the part of the lane the cars are in, then they'll zoom by and won't hit you, even if they never saw you. (exceptions to riding on the extreme right are noted below)


    Here's another example: It's a good idea to signal a left turn, but it's a better idea to make your left turn at a time or place where there aren't cars behind you that could hit you while you're stopped and waiting to make that turn. You can hang out in the middle of the street, stopped, with your left arm out, waiting to make your turn, but you're counting on cars behind you to see you and stop. If they don't see you, you're in trouble.


    Naturally we don't advocate running red lights, but if you're the kind of person who does, then apply the invisibility principle when deciding on whether to run a particular light: Could any cross traffic possibly hit me if I were invisible? If yes, then absolutely don't do it. Never make a car have to slow down to avoid hitting you (red light or not). Remember, the more you rely on cars to see you to avoid hitting you, the more chances they'll have to actually do so.


    Remember, you're not trying to BE invisible, you're just riding with the assumption that cars can't see you. Of course, you certainly WANT them to see you, and you should help them with that. That's why you'll wave to motorists whom you think might be about to pull out in front of you, and why you'll be lit up like a Christmas tree at night (front and rear lights).





    There are exceptions to riding as though you were invisible. For example, often you'll need to command a whole lane of traffic instead of riding to the extreme right, for the reasons mentioned in the next section.


    Take The Whole Lane When Appropriate.

    While you'll often prefer to ride to the extreme right to keep out of the way of cars passing you, it's often safest to take the whole lane, or at least move a little bit to the left. As you'll see from diagram #1 above, riding a bit to the left allows cars at cross streets at intersections to see you better. Also, you should take the lane if cars are passing you too closely from behind. This requires cars behind you to see you and either slow down or change lanes. Then again, if you're on the kind of street where you've got cars blocked up behind you or constantly changing lanes to get around you, you're probably on the wrong street and should find a quieter neighborhood street.


    By the way, it's perfectly legal for you to take the lane. Texas State Law (and the laws of most other states) says you have to ride as far to the right as is "practicable". Here are some things that make it impracticable to ride to the extreme right:


    Cars are passing you too closely. If the lane is too narrow for cars to pass you safely, then move left and take the whole lane. Getting buzzed by cars is dangerous.


    Cars are parked on the right-hand side of the road. If you ride too close to these you're gonna get doored when someone gets out of their car. Move left.


    You're in a heavy traffic area with lots of side streets, parking lots, or driveways ahead and to your right. Cars turning left won't see you because they're looking for traffic in the MIDDLE of the road, not on the extreme edge of the road. Move left. See Collision diagram #1 above.


    If you're paying attention, you'll notice that there are risks to both riding to the extreme right as well as taking the lane. If you wanted a steadfast rule, then sorry, it isn't that simple. (But take heart, because many of the OTHER concepts we mention in our Top 10 list above work 100% of the time.) If you ride all the way to the right, you risk getting doored, and you make it hard for cars at cross streets at intersections to see you. But if you take the lane, you'll definitely get hit if a car behind you doesn't see you. To make it more likely that they'll see you when you're taking the lane, be lit up like a Christmas tree at night, and take neighborhood streets when you can, since the cars will be traveling slower and therefore approach you from behind slower, and have more time to see you.

  • #2
    My dad as a kid road his bike down one of the steepest hills in San Francisco. Lol .. some guy opened the car door as pops was flyin full speed ahead..

    4 months in a body cast
    "Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before." - Poe

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Amarett
      My dad as a kid road his bike down one of the steepest hills in San Francisco. Lol .. some guy opened the car door as pops was flyin full speed ahead..
      4 months in a body cast
      a good friend of my sister just recently opened his door on a busy street (he was parked @ the side of the road .. legally i might add), and a bus came by and smoked the door clean off.
      in my home country of Soviet Russia, road forks you.

      Comment


      • #4
        PWNED!!!1!1'1!'1#1'1
        #1'#1;1JUFYFAUHREWIURHKJHGFKSFGYUFGAJFGJADVFADASAY SLOLABLE!!!!#FS;G']'!1!!:1#V1'1#[email protected]';[email protected]#!:l
        OH HAI!

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        • #5
          haha
          I'm a monster on the block

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          • #6
            I nearly got knocked over before, the dude shouted at me said i nearly damaged his car
            Turn up the system!

            Comment


            • #7
              Always run into open car doors and sue for injury
              Steelers+Penguins+Panthers=Pittsburgh
              HAIL TO PITT

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