The loud pipes thread got me to thinking about the steps I take (or think I should take) while riding
to stay as safe as possible. Not all of my loved ones are enamored with the fact that I ride my bike to work in the city with the second longest average commute time in the U.S. It's busy (though I leave very early to avoid this as much as possible). Most people around here are type As, they tend to be in a hurry, and many of them (not all) are either asses or relatively oblivious to their surroundings on the road. I thought about what I tell my loved ones about how I stay safe. I came up with these as my top 8. I've pretty much made these habit, though I find myself violating them now and then and have to remind myself about them. I'd be interested if anyone has any big ones I missed --- I probably did.
1. Always ride with a heightened sense of awareness of what is going on 360 degrees around you. I admit that this takes a bit of work and can take some of the fun out of it. Each rider decides his/her own degree of adherence to this strategy.
2. Always have an out. Same work/fun tradeoff as in 1. Your call how much to worry about it for yourself.
3. Never enter an intersection, whether you have the right of way or not, when a truck in the other lane substantially obscures the view of both oncoming traffic and those on the cross-road that are "supposed" to be stopped. I consider doing this to be Russian Roulette. It sometimes pisses off people behind me, but I'd rather do that than be squashed like a bug.
4. Never ride in a blind spot without an both an out and a heightened sense of awareness of what the other driver is doing.
5. Avoid as much as possible riding in a blind spot even when you have an out.
6. When approaching an exit, be especially aware of all traffic behind you (and beside you if you're stuck with that). Be prepared for asses like the guy in the Audi behind me on GW Parkway two weeks ago that decided my speed (about 8 mph over the speed limit) wasn't fast enough for him to reach his exit over the memorial bridge as quickly as he wanted. He zoomed into the left lane around me, zoomed back to the right lane, and exited right in front of me. I had a friend almost killed from a rocket scientist that conducted a similar experiment a few years ago. This is big one that we often forget. Where I live, the ass to nice guy ratio is rather high. (I sometimes call it the ass_ole coefficient. These coefficients vary by city. It makes my wife mad when I talk this way, but it seems pretty true to me.) Inattention to this possibility near exits could be fatal.
7. Avoid riding in the middle lane when there is a lot of tailgating traffic. What's your out? You may have one, but it's a dangerous out.
8. If either the left-most or right-most lane does not have a shoulder, avoid it if you can. Ride where you have an out. If no lanes have shoulders and there is a lot of tailgating traffic, well, that's no fun. If that goes on for miles, I get off and try to find another route.
9. When being tailgated, I tap my braklights twice to get the person to give more space. If they don't, I tap them twice again and look back. It usually works for me, but not always
10. At stop signs and stop lights, I am always aware of what is happening behind me and give myself an out if possible, ususally escaping up the right shoulder. I leave enough space so this is possible, and am aware of what the person behind me is doing.
What big ones have I left out? I suspect there may be old threads on this, but thought I check to see what folks think about my personal list of safe-riding strategies.
Happy and safe riding,