Bicycle safety tips

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andys
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I have been seeing more and more people riding bikes, both human powered and E-bikes. I am even beginning to see people out on the avenues in small electric scooters. I think all this is really great, but it also means more inexperienced riders mixing it up with cars. I wanted to share a great website that has some detailed tips on how to make your way from point A to point B without getting run into by cars. Some of the tips he shows may have saved my life, or least prevented some broken bones.

http://bicyclesafe.com/

I personally feel safer on my e-bike, because I can pull out quicker, especially if I am going up a slight grade. I am also traveling at a lower speed differential with cars on surface streets. Of Course, over at the Endless Sphere website, people were noticing e-bikes can baffle some automobile drivers, as they can travel at faster sustained speeds, making it harder for cars to pass them. Many people have experienced impatient drivers making unsafe passes, sometimes even slightly touching their bikes as they went by! That would really freak me out.

Thought it might be a good idea to get a discussion going about this. Let me know if you learned anything form the bicyclesafe.com website above. He really stresses to keep the bikes off the sidewalk, and not to ride too far right where you become invisible.

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deronmoped
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

I can not understand why people say to stay off the sidewalks. Here are the reasons why I ride on a sidewalk.

1) The road is too narrow to allow for a car and a bike in the same lane, I have had people squeeze by before and nearly hit me when I have been on narrow roads.

2) Being up on the sidewalk means a car can not run you down, either from behind or if they are coming at you. The cars parked along the curb protect you. Where I live and ride there are always plenty of parked cars to absorb a impact.

3) Some of the roads I ride on in San Diego are so full of pot holes, bus pushed up asphalt, glass... that I choose the sidewalk in those situations. I would hate to go down and have some car come and run me over.

4) I'm always looking to see if someone is in a parked car, would hate to have them open the door in front of me. Sometimes I just do not want to deal with being that alert and checking all the parked cars that I ride by. Being up on the sidewalk I do not have to do that as our sidewalks are plenty wide, most with parkways built in.

5) Riding downtown it allows me to move around the city easier with one-way streets.

6) Urban riding is much faster if you know how to use the sidewalks to your advantage.

7) Then of course, there is the hot women that need a closer inspection :)

Deron.

chas_stevenson
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

D man wrote:

Sometimes I just do not want to deal with being that alert

Sounds like you have a contradiction between this statement and reason 7.

LOL
Grandpa Chas S.

Alias
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

I hate to say it but, a lot of bicyclist also think that they are cars; and a lot of reasons why automobiles drivers, drive the way that they do in front of bicyclist is because, they sometimes do take up a lot of the driver's room in street lanes. It kind of sucks because there are bicycle lanes on city streets, then again depending on where you live. This is why they have bicycle lanes, use them, not the side walks (if you can avoid it). Some roads are incredibly narrow (with no bicycle lanes) that you do have to use the side-walks. So it's almost like a two way theory ;)

reikiman
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

On the other hand a power assisted bicyclist is a bit faster than the typical bicyclist. Usually. Yes there are exceptions, I said 'typical'.

At typical bicycle speed it doesn't make sense to me for the bicyclist to be mixing it up with the cars. You'll just irritate the car drivers. I think it's best for bicyclists to go on the side of the road and bicycle lanes make that more pleasant. I think bicyclists don't make sense on sidewalks because their speed isn't compatible with pedestrians.

You can make a faster bicycle.. and it's been my experience that as the vehicle speed increases it's more feasible to be in the regular flow of traffic.

I think this is the root of requiring vehicle registration and safety requirements in higher speed vehicles. Because they're going to be out with the cars the government wants to know its safe for a specific vehicle to be there, because one of the jobs clearly owned by the government is maintenance of the common areas like the public roads.

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davew
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

I admit that there is a lot of gray area. Maybe not legally, but practically. I prefer the sidewalk even in the presence of a bike line if there are no pedestrians present. Pedestrians are scarce in my neck of the woods. In a bike lane you are still vulnerable to a texting teenager or a drunk as has been proved a few times around here so I'd just as soon not take that risk. On the other hand sidewalks can be a problem if there are a lot of curb cuts. I have to keep checking over my shoulder to make sure nobody is going to right-turn me out of existence. In these cases I'll chose the bike lane or a different street.

I also like parking lots quite a bit. People are generally aware so inattention is not as big a problem. Parking lots also provide many route choices so I can stay well clear of the cars that are moving. My favorite route to work is about 1/4 parking lots most of which are for disused office buildings which makes for lovely, stress-free riding.

A short, shameful confession: I like to torment cars a little. I know it's childish, but there you go. There is a place where cars are waiting to right-turn on red and I am crossing the intersection in the same direction as a pedestrian. Most of the time the light turns green and the "walk" sign is lit before they get a chance to go. Frequently, however, they are not aware that the light has changed, and they have forgotten all about me. If I automatically went into the crosswalk on green I'd be pancaked a few times a week. The prudent thing to do would be to make sure the second person in line sees me before asserting the right of way. Prudent, but not fun. What I do is go anyway, but not so far as to get into the path of the vehicle. If they go I give 'em a loud "Oy!". A screech is worth 1 point. Dropped cell phones are worth 2 points. Dropped lattes or cigarettes are worth 3 points. The best, however, is when they decide to widen their turn to get around me. I go farther, they go wider, and so on. Making them kiss the median is worth 5 points. I manage this about once a year. I rationalize this as a public service. Each of these people is now slightly more aware of crosswalks.

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Alias
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

See, this is why I get iffy around bicyclist when I drive. I am extremely careful of them, half of the time they
are not even paying attention to on-coming traffic or traffic in general. A lot of driver's are curtious to other bicyclist out there. It's common sence; if bicyclist and or/ pedestrians are in your turning lane in front of you and your light is red (or green) yet you still have a chance to go, let them go first.
There is no point to me in making an issue out of something that can cause a legal situation.
Bicyclist should be using the bike lanes, not the sidewalks (if you can avoid them in certain areas).

Then again, it's the opposite with driver's who don't pay attention.

Mik
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

The tips in the http://bicyclesafe.com/ site are excellent, I have been using all of them and arrived at the conclusions / techniques before there was an internet to learn all sorts of stuff. The tips are obviously written from experience, not some theoretical musings.

Of course it all depends on the local conditions.

One addition I use is that I do not only assume that I am invisible, but that the cars are trying to hit me on purpose.

I doubt people can learn or comprehend these safety rules on a purely theoretical basis.

Hearing is also massively important, but less useful if other bikes or EV's are on a collision path with you.

I often take up the whole lane for a short time and try to have enough reserves to put in a sprint of 40km/h or so when this is necessary.

Mr. Mik

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ArcticFox
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

My experience... Collision Type #4: The Right Hook

Some dope in a truck tries to pass me while gunning his engine, then realizes he has to turn right into a driveway. He cuts me off, I hit him and end up down the road and on the other side of the street.

Police showed up and threatened to give me a ticket for "failing to yield". Said he'd just give me a warning this time since I had to go to the hospital.

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Alias
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

Question; did you end up having an accident because, you saw him while you heard him gunning his engine and decide to go further past the driveway that where you got hit at? This could be why you almost got the ticket

cyclepete
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

Here's some high level safety stuff.

Most car/bike collisions in urban and suburban areas happen in intersections. Very few occur when being passed by a car.

Riding on a sidewalk increases the likelihood of an intersection collision unless you cross slowly like a pedestrian. Some studies ahve shown a 4x increase in accidents when bicycles ride on the sidewalk.

Higher speeds probably increase the likelihood of intersection collisions, as you have less time to react to conditions, and the collisions that occur will be more dangerous due to the higher speed.

Most inexperienced bicyclists worry about getting hit from behind by a passing car and focus way too much attention on this problem. Your attention really needs to be on both minor ( driveways) and major intersections in front of you. Cars rolling out of minor intersections without looking can be a major problem.

When approaching an intersection, being in the proper location goes a long way to reducing collisions. You don't want to be all the way to the right if you are going straight as you can get hit by right turning cars ( right hook) plus you are less visible to cars turning left in front of you ( left hook). Position yourself roughly where a car would be to go the direction you are going. In a simple intersection with no turn lanes you position yourself to the right for a right turn and in t e center of the lane for going straight or making a left. Once you cross the intersection you can return to the right side of the lane.

In urban areas, parked cars can be a real problem. "Dooring", or getting hit by an opening door is a significant cause of injuties and even deaths. Never ride within a door width from parked cars.

Mik
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

cyclepete wrote:

When approaching an intersection, being in the proper location goes a long way to reducing collisions. You don't want to be all the way to the right if you are going straight as you can get hit by right turning cars ( right hook) plus you are less visible to cars turning left in front of you ( left hook). Position yourself roughly where a car would be to go the direction you are going. In a simple intersection with no turn lanes you position yourself to the right for a right turn and in t e center of the lane for going straight or making a left. Once you cross the intersection you can return to the right side of the lane.

In urban areas, parked cars can be a real problem. "Dooring", or getting hit by an opening door is a significant cause of injuties and even deaths. Never ride within a door width from parked cars.

On a bicycle I usually choose one of three default positions:
The left or right groove made by the car tires or the painted side line.
That way the rolling resistance is lowest and you get the maximum safety effect if you choose the appropriate one of these three options. (For example there is no point "claiming" your space on the road when the traffic approaching from behind is traveling at 110km/h and will only be able to see you with minimal warning and cannot change lanes because of oncoming traffic.)

Mr. Mik

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MCHuntley
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

Alias wrote:

I hate to say it but, a lot of bicyclist also think that they are cars; and a lot of reasons why automobiles drivers, drive the way that they do in front of bicyclist is because, they sometimes do take up a lot of the driver's room in street lanes. It kind of sucks because there are bicycle lanes on city streets, then again depending on where you live. This is why they have bicycle lanes, use them, not the side walks (if you can avoid it). Some roads are incredibly narrow (with no bicycle lanes) that you do have to use the side-walks. So it's almost like a two way theory ;)

Actually, in most states, Bicycles are considered vehicles. The same rules and laws that apply to cars, apply to bicycles. Cars do not own the road, it is a shared resource. Legally a bicycle can take control of the lane if there is no room for a car to pass.

Granted, in the US bicycles are treated as toys, and too many bicyclists drive like the laws do not apply to them(Like many car drivers). Also, in many places it is Illegal to drive a bicycle on the sidewalk.

Personally, I think that both sides of the equation need education, and patience.

pchilds
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

Quote:

in many places it is Illegal to drive a bicycle on the sidewalk.

California, is one of them.

I see bicyclists not stop for stop signs and red lights all the time. I know it is not easy, to start from a complete stop; but, it is much easier than recovering from being hit be a car, truck or SUV.

Philip

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Alias
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

California is definetly one of them, you are right pchilds.

You only make it more difficult to stop if you are going too fast.
You have more time when you are going at a slower speed to make a safe decision in a matter of seconds verses going at high speeds.
(ehem not sure if that makes sence or not, yawn sorry folks it's about 2330 hours)

Alias
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

MCHuntley wrote

Quote:

Actually, in most states, Bicycles are considered vehicles

Yeah depending on how they are built, they are considered "mopeds."

Quote:

Personally, I think that both sides of the equation need education, and patience.

Hey, I couldn't agree with you more on that one!!! Kudos to that one, as the saying goes;
"couldn't we all just get along?"

cyclepete
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

"or example there is no point "claiming" your space on the road when the traffic approaching from behind is traveling at 110km/h and will only be able to see you with minimal warning and cannot change lanes because of oncoming traffic"

I can't believe there are streets engineered for high-speed traffic without adequate sight lines. At least in the USA, this would be considered an extremely unsafe intersection and the speed would be lowered to match the sight lines.

So this would be a highly unusual situation here.

Mik
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

cyclepete wrote:

I can't believe there are streets engineered for high-speed traffic without adequate sight lines. At least in the USA, this would be considered an extremely unsafe intersection and the speed would be lowered to match the sight lines.

So this would be a highly unusual situation here.

The limit is 80km/h at the spot I've got in mind, but it gets broken a lot. And some, particularly them big, noisy stinkbikes, go even faster than 110km/h!

Mr. Mik

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cyclepete
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

I believe you are Aussy? So I can't say what the situation is there, although I believe the few studies I've seen give results similar to the USA.
In the USA, only small percentage of bike/car collisions fit into the "hit from behind" category. And these are mostly on rural roads at night where the bike has no lights. Daytime urban/suburban hit from behind are almost nonexistent. So in urban/suburban areas they are not worth considering. The BIG problem is collisions in intersections which make up nearly all of car/bike collisions. Fear of "taking the lane" because you might get hit from behind is clearly improper, as you are dramatically increasing your chances of a serious intersection collision by not taking the lane.

deronmoped
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

I have heard that statistic before, that people get hit at driveways and intersections more often if they are up on sidewalks. I think it just goes to show you that the bicyclist is not riding defensively. I never cross or enter a driveway or intersection not unless I can see that it is clear, to do otherwise is a guaranty that your days are numbered. In this case I think the extra power of my Pedelec makes me safer, I find myself slowing down more when I come to intersections/driveways, on a bicycle I tried to keep my speed up more.

One thing I wish I had, not sure if would make me safer, is a faster Pedelec. Whenever I'm in traffic and want to make a left turn, I find it is very difficult. If I had enough speed I could merge well before my turn, right now I sometimes find myself stuck on the right side of the road.

Deron.

MikeB
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

deronmoped wrote:

I have heard that statistic before, that people get hit at driveways and intersections more often if they are up on sidewalks.

Deron, I think this is an important observation. When riding on a sidewalk, you are essentially invisible to drivers. They aren't expecting anything to move 20mph on the sidewalk, so the only traffic they look for is a nearly stationary pedestrian. A cyclist essentially comes out of nowhere, as far as their perceptions go. Riding in the road places you into the realm of 'faster' traffic, even if you are quite a bit slower than another car. They may be annoyed at you for slowing them down, but they are much more likely to actually see you.

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adamtki
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

Here's a few extra safety tips perhaps for unique for electric bicyclists from my 2 years of commuting on one.

- When a car is overtaking you, stop pedalling (don't brake though) to just slow down a little to let them pass you faster. Electric bicycles allows cars to see you longer before overtaking you but it takes them longer to pass (as one poster earlier stated), so you want to minimize the amount of time a car is right next to you. This will require a mirror, of course.

- Unless you can ride in the car lane, don't go too fast along the shoulder or even bike lane. At the higher speeds, a blind driveway/entrance will come up on you faster. In other words, the faster you go, the more you should be looking for opportunities to ride on the car lane. This requires a mirror.

- When the light turns green, don't make a fast start if there are just a few cars behind you needing to go straight. Go slow and drift a little to the right to allow the cars to pass you. By the time you get across the intersection, most or all of the cars will have passed and you can now ride without having to worry about those cars needing to pass you. This'll require a mirror as well.

- Since you'll be passing other cyclists more often, it is helpful to use a mirror.

Alias
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

It is crazy because freeway speeds for example are set and (lawed) at 65 mph. In the Bay Area California however,
You literally have to do 75 or 80mph on these freeway's, otherwise you get run over and it doesn't matter what lane you are in. Sheez if the law required the freeway speeds to change over to 80mph I could only imagine that driver's would be driving at 100mph, and more accidents especially with drunk drivers.

deronmoped
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Re: Bicycle safety tips

MikeB wrote:
deronmoped wrote:

I have heard that statistic before, that people get hit at driveways and intersections more often if they are up on sidewalks.

Deron, I think this is an important observation. When riding on a sidewalk, you are essentially invisible to drivers. They aren't expecting anything to move 20mph on the sidewalk, so the only traffic they look for is a nearly stationary pedestrian. A cyclist essentially comes out of nowhere, as far as their perceptions go. Riding in the road places you into the realm of 'faster' traffic, even if you are quite a bit slower than another car. They may be annoyed at you for slowing them down, but they are much more likely to actually see you.

Mike, I pretty much act like I'm invisible no matter if I'm on a sidewalk or road, I wait till the driver has seen me before I will take a action that will put me in his path. I know it's probably worse on a sidewalk, that's why I would have to agree that going 20 MPH on a sidewalk is asking for trouble. I go anywhere from 1 or 2 MPH to a little less then 10 MPH, to go faster on the sidewalks I ride on just does not give a person time react to the conditions.

I'm not up on the sidewalk because I would be afraid of annoying somebody by slowing them down, I'm up there because I'm afraid that a sixteen or eighty five year old driver will try and squeeze by without much success and will end up dragging me down the road attached to their mirror :(

Deron.

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