Friday, November 25, 2005

Safe Cycling Tip #2

Tip #2: Cars can be your friend

Yep, believe it or not, sometimes the presence of car can (imho) make your riding safer. People are always looking out for themselves, so someone in a car won't do something to jeopardize their safety. Furthermore, drivers tend to respond to other cars. When you are driving, you are looking for that shape, not necessarily that of a bike.

So, how can you use this to your advantage? Imagine you're riding down the side of a road and a car is about to pull out of a driveway in front of you. Chances are if there is car somewhere near you on the left, the person in the driveway will see you and not pull out.

Another example: Sometimes I cross a pedestrian crosswalk on the left side of a busy road. The crosswalk goes "green" just after the left turn lane (two very busy left turn lanes in this case) clears (the cars turning left are going through the crosswalk I'm about to use). During rush hour I see people regularly running this left turn light. If you aren't carefull entering the crosswalk you could easily get clipped by someone running the light. This is another case where cars can be your friend. When the crosswalk signal goes, the left turn is red and the cars coming at you have a green light. Those cars will never go if someone is running the left turn light or in the middle of the intersection. Watching the behavior of these cars has saved me more than once.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Safe Cycling Tips #1

Now that I've been commuting a lot I've been thinking much more about how to be safe on the road. So I figured I'd put together some of my observations in a series of posts. The usual caveats apply: these are observations, non scientific fact.. use them at your own risk. If you disagree, let me know. :)

Ok, tip #1: Listen

Your ears can tell you so much about what is going on around you. Listen to the cars coming up behind you. Do you hear a diesel engine? If so, be scared. It might be a bus or large truck that takes up a large part of the lane and has gigantic mirrors. Just the other day I heard the familiar diesel sound and looked back to see a huge garbage truck heading toward me. Since the road barely had a shoulder I briefly jumped off into the grass and avoided a close encounter with low flying mirrors.

Do you hear the whine of one of those souped up Honda Civics? Might be a teenager who cares more about looking cool in his tricked out car than making sure you get home safe.

What about the rumble of big knobby tires or the whine of a turbo? You can draw your on conclusions on how to handle these situations, but listen up and be safe (er).

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Kissing the Pavement Boards

I was chucking recently when I read Jim's post about his biannual crash. I've managed to avoid random falls (getting hit by cars doesn't count) up until this point, but on Monday it was my turn. I was commuting to work on my usual route. It was very wet, but not raining at the time. For safety I decided to take a trail instead of riding the sidewalk (on 56th street near costco for you Issaquah people). As I cruised down the trail I was in the middle of a slight bend when the trail turned from concrete to something like a boardwalk. Well, wet wood covered with pine needles doesn't exactly have the grip of concrete and I was sliding along the boards before that thought entered my head.

I picked my self up, sore and embarrassed, verified there was no blood pouring out of me and continue on my way to work. I ended up with a nasty bruise on my hip and some skin missing from there and my elbow, but nothing serious.