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Old 08-11-14, 03:11 PM   #1
morningskies
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Road Safety Tips

I am a new cyclist looking for some tips about how to deal with road safety issues. The rest of this post describes situations I have encountered recently while riding. I'm looking for advice about what I should have done/ should do in the future to avoid or reduce the safety hazard. I apologize if this has been covered in the past. I could not find specific situational advice using the search function. Thank you all in advance for your help.

No Shoulder Roads

Situation
I have on occasion found myself biking along roads where the white fog line is painted at edge of the pavement with only a ditch to the right of line.

What I did:
Rode as far right as possible as pickup trucks passed with little clearance at 45mph. At the first possible opportunity (several miles own the road) turned onto a safer road.

Ideas for the future:
1) Avoid such roads in the future.
How should I go about this, especially for new routes where I do not know the road conditions?

2) Take the full lane. Is taking the lane more dangerous on a road where it is not possible to ride at the speed of traffic?

4 Way Stop

Situation:
Driver who is to my right or arrived at the stop sign first waves me on despite having the right of way.

A related but different situation involves when two side roads with stop signs meet a main road with no stop sign. I am attempting to cross the main road and after stopping at the white line have to move up in order to see oncoming traffic. Meanwhile a car is stopped across the street and the driver waves me on. Should I trust my life to their judgement and go. Move up slowly and look before going possibly causing the driver across the street to turn in to me. or should I wave the driver on and then precede as normal?


What I did: This has happened frequently and I have responded in a number of different ways. Sometimes I have gone and sometimes I have waved the driver on instead. This situation is often complicated when a third vehicle arrives later at the stop sign or in the second case when more than one driver is waiting across the street.

Right Turn Only Lanes

Situation:
A road I frequently travel on has a large wide paved shoulder that is marked in spots as a bike lane. Along this road there are a couple of places where the shoulder narrows and turns into a right hand only car lane. One of these locations is at an intersection with a 4 lane divided highway (there is a traffic light). At a second location there is a right hand only lane that leads to an office building. There is a sign indicating that the bike lane ends and the shoulder is marked with a pedestrian symbol.

What I did:
I always check my handlebar mirror and then over my shoulder before signaling left and merging into the center lane to cross the street. Frequently cars will pass me while I'm in the middle of the intersection. What should I do?

At the second location I acted the same as at the busy road. Carefully merging into the center lane to cross the intersection. A couple days ago as I biked thru the the intersection a car sped towards me from behind honking their horn. What should I have done? And what should I do to be more safe in the future? Incidentally I was wearing a bright yellow road safety vest and it was bright daylight at the time.

Dogs

Situation:

I have often been barked at and chased by dogs some of them friendly but still a hazard, some of them not friendly. On occasion these dogs are accompanied by an owner who either has them on a long leash or no leash at all. At other times the dogs are running freely with no people around.

How do I best avoid hitting the dog without putting my self at risk to oncoming traffic? Also, in the case of the nasty dogs what do I do to protect myself in case of attack?

Horns

Situation: While biking on the wide shoulder of a moderately travelled state road several cars honked their horns before passing me. I'm not sure if these drivers were being friendly, attempting to warn me before they passed ( I was several feet off the the travel lane in the shoulder), or just annoyed the cyclists exist.

What can I do in the future to travel on moderately busy roads that have a shoulder?

Insects, rain and gravel

Situation: Flying insects, rain or gravel hits me in the eye temporarily blinding me.

What I did: On one recent occasion an insect flew into my eye forcing me to close one eye signal a stop and hastily break while pulling off to the side of the road.

Are there cycling goggles that a non eyeglass wearer can use to protect themselves from flying debris and critters?

Poor Shoulders

Situation: Some roads have a shoulder that is covered in hazards such as glass gravel, storm drains and pot holes.

Should I ride in the less than perfect shoulder or violate the rule of invisibility (assume you are always invisible to cars) and ride in the lane?

Any other general safety tips besides the obvious? (wear a helmet have lights when riding at night etc..)

Thank you so much.

I appreciate all the advice I can get.
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Old 08-11-14, 03:23 PM   #2
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My two fingers are too tired, so here's a link to a site that covers most of your situations and offers practical guidance.

My advice, is more fundamental, use your judgement in every situation and ride predictably, with clear (sometimes exaggerated) movements so that drivers know where you're headed and can adjust accordingly.

I also have something of a non trusting nature and generally prefer to cross behind rather than in front of cars, though I don't make a fetish of this.
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Old 08-11-14, 03:38 PM   #3
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I would recommend you take a cycle-safety course. There are League of American Bicyclists (LAB) certified safety instructors all over the U.S. On the eastern side of the country, there are Cycle Savvy instructors, as well. Both have top-notch classes.

Two key things to keep in mind while on the road are to be visible and be predictable. You'll hear this over and over in these classes.
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Old 08-12-14, 07:42 AM   #4
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I general, I run a blinky light front and rear 24/7. As to 4 way stops and t- intersections, do not allow car drivers to dictate to you when it is safe to go. Use your own best judgement. They are trying to be nice but often can't see what the others cars are doing. It annoys me when drivers give up their right of way, often chaos ensues. I will wave them on, shake my head or even look down and drink from my water bottle until I feel it is safe. I always wear glasses in addition to my contacts. Go to a hardware store and buy some clear/ yellow/ tinted safety glasses. About $ 10.00 and they usually have good coverage.
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Old 08-12-14, 12:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
My two fingers are too tired, so here's a link to a site that covers most of your situations and offers practical guidance.

My advice, is more fundamental, use your judgement in every situation and ride predictably, with clear (sometimes exaggerated) movements so that drivers know where you're headed and can adjust accordingly.

I also have something of a non trusting nature and generally prefer to cross behind rather than in front of cars, though I don't make a fetish of this.
Bolding mine.

This. And include an accurate assessment of your abilities in any decision. At my peak I rode to opening day at Dodger Stadium. At my peak when I was not that much slower than the cars were going. If my top speed was 15 MPH that would have been a duck in a shooting gallery experience. Since I was good for over 25 from gate to parking lot I was good.

On dogs pay attention. I had one instance on a climb where 3 large (as in smallest at 120 Lbs or so) came down from a point above and in front of me. Went from Oh **** to hey wait, tails wagging and no barking back to, if they are too friendly one may jump on me. In the end my only real problem was getting them to go home, they liked being petted by a new friend.

Ironic bit is they were on the same route where the only real problem dog I have encountered lived. He once tried to get me from ambush. Sadly he was not out that day, otherwise I was going to visit him with my new friends.
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Old 08-12-14, 12:46 PM   #6
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Old 08-18-14, 07:27 PM   #7
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I don't think I can improve on the advice above. Remember to not let those drivers hurry you into crossing before you're ready. In most cases they're simply trying to be nice. That's not good enough. Give them a good left-to-right headshake and mouth the words, "Nope. You go ahead." Ham it up, they'll get the picture. Smile while you're doing this. They'll understand your grateful for their good manners. Then they'll go on and everyone'll be happy.

I don't know if there're any rules on this. But it's okay by me to solicit advice that might have been given before. It seems to me that a forum like this should be a 'living' thing. Even if that means some repetition. I don't see why it should be an encyclopedia where folks simply look up what they want to know with no interaction.
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Old 08-19-14, 06:26 AM   #8
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Keep in mind that experience is necessary too. Situations or techniques you feel are daunting now likely won't when you have more experience/practice. Don't think you'll be able to execute a long list of tips reliably as a new rider. Work up to it.

Last edited by njkayaker; 08-19-14 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 08-19-14, 06:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morningskies View Post
Situation:
Driver who is to my right or arrived at the stop sign first waves me on despite having the right of way.

What I did: This has happened frequently and I have responded in a number of different ways. Sometimes I have gone and sometimes I have waved the driver on instead. This situation is often complicated when a third vehicle arrives later at the stop sign or in the second case when more than one driver is waiting across the street.
There isn't any one rule that will work in this situation (but the action specified in the law is the "correct" one).

A driver waving you on isn't going to run you over but there are complications that could get you run over anyway.

If you hesitate too much (take too long to cross), the driver might think you are waiting instead and start moving. Keep in mind that what you and the driver think is "hesitating too much" might not be the same. In this case, if you take too long, it might be better/safer to make it clear to the driver you are waiting.

The other problem is that the person being waved through interpretes that as meaning "it's safe to go". It never, ever means that (it only means that one driver is yielding). It's only safe to go if you know it's safe to go. Put another way, the driver waving you through often isn't looking for other cars/hazards, which you could be nailed by if you don't make sure it's safe to go.
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Old 08-19-14, 09:44 AM   #10
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Old 08-19-14, 10:13 AM   #11
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It sounds like you're doing things right.

Be predictable and take the right half of the lane when a poor or non-existent shoulder exists. You want to convey the message that the lane is too narrow for both of you. Get a mirror so you can keep an eye on traffic behind you. If the road feels too dangerous for riding, try to find another route to take.

Always ride in the right-most lane for the direction that you're going. If the bike lane turns into a right-turn lane, signal and move left. If there is a lot of traffic, I'll ride the white line between lanes to tell cars that I'm going straight instead of merging in and slowing everyone down.

I wear sunglasses to help with the bugs. You can also buy bike goggles, but they really look silly.

The horn-honking may be remnants of an old law that stated you were supposed to honk before passing.

The best guideline is to pretend you're a very slow car and follow the laws.
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Old 08-19-14, 11:00 AM   #12
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1. When I first started riding roads I drove the routes a few days ahead of time to see the potentially dangerous spots and changed the planned route to avoid them. I also always told someone the route I would be riding so they could come look for me if it was necessary.

2. You have the same rights to the road as a vehicle. Deal with these intersections just like you were in one. Take the center of the lane you need to use and proceed when it is your turn to go. Be situationaly aware of drivers not paying attention but If you follow standard rules they will know what to expect.

3. Same as above. Use the center of the lane you need to be in.

4. Do not try to outrun the dogs. The typically advised practice is to stop and put the bike between you and the dog and walk away. I carry pepper spray and will use it even in the presence of the owner if I feel in danger. Most of the dogs I run across just want to run next to the road but you have to judge each instance individually.

5. Assume they are being friendly. Whether intentional or not they are making you aware of their presence. If they yell or whatever then just wave and smile and keep riding. You don't want or need a confrontation with a redneck in a vehicle.

6. They call them sunglasses. You could wear some clear safety glasses if you wanted. Don't wear goggles they can impair your peripheral vision.

7. Ride in the lane if the shoulder has hazards. Running in and out to avoid them is more dangerous and it makes you unpredictable to the cars coming up behind you.

8. Don't forget to have fun !!!!
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Old 08-20-14, 01:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morningskies View Post
No Shoulder Roads

Situation
I have on occasion found myself biking along roads where the white fog line is painted at edge of the pavement with only a ditch to the right of line.

What I did:
Rode as far right as possible as pickup trucks passed with little clearance at 45mph. At the first possible opportunity (several miles own the road) turned onto a safer road.

Ideas for the future:
1) Avoid such roads in the future.
How should I go about this, especially for new routes where I do not know the road conditions?

2) Take the full lane. Is taking the lane more dangerous on a road where it is not possible to ride at the speed of traffic?
I wouldn't take the lane if traffic is at 45 mph. I don't think drivers will have enough time to react. I try to give myself enough room on the right to be safe, 2 or 3 feet. Riding on roads with no bike lane, I would use the bright blinking lights in back to make sure you're seen. Ultimately, avoid these roads if they're heavy with car traffic.

I second the idea of finding a local riding club, or see if your LBS organizes rides. Talk to people about where you're riding - they will probably have suggestions.

Sometimes I get in the car and drive a route that I'm unfamiliar with, to avoid surprises. Finding myself on a road that's unsafe is an experience I'd like to avoid!
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