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Situational Awareness - Staying Safe on the Road

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Situational Awareness - Staying Safe on the Road

Old 04-18-16, 08:15 PM
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Situational Awareness - Staying Safe on the Road

Yesterday I went out with a friend and we spent the afternoon and evening riding around coastal areas in Orange County California. With the great weather there were tons of people out on their bikes. Anything from the serious roadie to people riding their beach cruisers about town. What never ceases to surprise and concern me are those riding at night against and with traffic with no lights and dark clothing. We almost ran over a young lady riding on the sidewalk against traffic at dusk with no lights and jeans and a dark top!

There is a recent thread - Cyclist Killed in Rancho Palos Verdes - No Charges for Driver ? about a young man who was a very experienced cyclist and well known by his club and community of riders. It seems that everyone is still trying to come to terms on how this accident could have occurred. How did this experienced cyclist end up in a situation that ultimately cost him his life?

We can do a tremendous amount to help keep ourselves safe riding our local streets in a crowded urban environment.

The "OODA Loop" was created by US Air Force Col John Boyd to help train fighter pilots. He actually never authored anything regarding Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop, but many have studied and expounded on it.

Observe Orient Decide Act

It may seem like overkill for the cyclist, but considering the complexities of riding in an Urban Environment where there is a ton of information coming at the cyclist from all directions with every pedal stroke. How we interpret and respond to that information can keep us safe!

OODA Loop

Situational Awareness
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Old 04-18-16, 08:36 PM
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My niece was driving up Main Street today and i was in the passenger seat. there was a big truck ahead of us. I happened to see a bicyclist riding towards us as he went between that big truck and the curb on our side of the road. from her side of the car my niece could NOT see that bicyclist untill he cleared the back of the truck. this was on a two-lane road with oncoming traffic in the oposite lane which meant anyone driving on our side of the road could NOT swerve into the next lane to avoid that bicyclist if he swerved, wobbled or otherwise drifted towards their car. I HATE wrong-direction riding bicyclists! They're a big part of why a lot of drivers want bicyclists licensed or off the roads.

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Old 04-18-16, 09:50 PM
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You can do all you can do, but one thing is a constant and that is the car/truck always wins.
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Old 04-18-16, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
My niece was driving up Main Street today and i was in the passenger seat. there was a big truck ahead of us. I happened to see a bicyclist riding towards us as he went between that big truck and the curb on our side of the road. from her side of the car my niece could NOT see that bicyclist untill he cleared the back of the truck. this was on a two-lane road with oncoming traffic in the oposite lane which meant anyone driving on our side of the road could NOT swerve into the next lane to avoid that bicyclist if he swerved, wobbled or otherwise drifted towards their car. I HATE wrong-direction riding bicyclists! They're a big part of why a lot of drivers want bicyclists licensed or off the roads.

Cheers
Each and every week, my local newspaper in this relatively small county (~350k population) has a story or three about wrong-way motorists killing themselves/others. I don't think licensing does much good when our standards are so low. Also, how many people are killed by cyclists in this nation each year (about one) and how many are killed by motorists (about 40,000). If someone needs to be gotten off the roads, it's most certainly not the folks who aren't killing innocent people.

For the record, I'm not a fan of wrong-way cyclists either. I'm also no big fan of squirrels, skunks, bear, turkeys and deer, all of which were on the road with me yesterday. However, none of them present threats I can't handle without feeling my life threatened. Can we honestly say the same thing about the typical motorist? Just a little perspective...
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Old 04-18-16, 10:21 PM
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You hit the nail on the head. The greatest threat to cyclist are inattentive - cell, texting, etc. motorists! Keeping things in perspective!
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Old 04-18-16, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
Each and every week, my local newspaper in this relatively small county (~350k population) has a story or three about wrong-way motorists killing themselves/others. I don't think licensing does much good when our standards are so low. Also, how many people are killed by cyclists in this nation each year (about one) and how many are killed by motorists (about 40,000). If someone needs to be gotten off the roads, it's most certainly not the folks who aren't killing innocent people.

For the record, I'm not a fan of wrong-way cyclists either. I'm also no big fan of squirrels, skunks, bear, turkeys and deer, all of which were on the road with me yesterday. However, none of them present threats I can't handle without feeling my life threatened. Can we honestly say the same thing about the typical motorist? Just a little perspective...
Here's the thing though. A wrong direction riding bicyclist on a two way two lane road for some reason moves to their right for whatever reason, the car heading towards then moves to the driver's left to avoid that wrong direction riding bicyclist. You then have the potential for a head-on collision of two motor vehicles and the resulting damage to those to vehicles will be a lot of $ to fix. Meanwhile the wrong-direction riding bicyclist continues on their merry way.

A wrong direction riding bicyclist who came out of a street at a blind intersection and who was riding at speed and never slowed or looked before trying to cross a main multi-lane street in Hamilton, Canada cost me a custom bicycle frame when I hit him broadside. Had i been an automobile or truck he'd have had that run down feeling that all the Geritol in the world would not have fixed. I hate wrong direction riding bicyclists and especially the pen-ultimately stupid ones who ride a dark bicycle without lights or even reflectors and wear dark clothing and ride unlit or poorly lit streets. They appear in front of you as though they just exited a time warp or stargate = one second their not there an an instant later there they are. The instinctive response of anyone driving towards them is to swerve left to avoid them. BANG! Another head-on collision of motor vehicles and qan unscathed bicyclist who continues riding.
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Old 04-18-16, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by fthomas View Post
You hit the nail on the head. The greatest threat to cyclist are inattentive - cell, texting, etc. motorists! Keeping things in perspective!
Since moving here in 1989 I've had ONE instance where I've had to take evasive action because a texting or cell phone using driver drifted into my lane. I can't tell you the number of wrong direction riding bicyclist i
Ive had to avoid in that same time period. On average it's at least one a week and most of those riders are riding without lights or even reflectors and are wearing dark clothing and riding dark colour bicycles. They're damn near invisible until the last second. For me wrong direction riding bicyclists are a damn sight more dangerous than the motor vehicle traffic is here in town.

YMMV

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Old 04-19-16, 07:26 AM
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I ride frequently where that crash occurred, and posted my thoughts about what happened. Thanks for the link!

I'm not sure how valuable that OODA stuff would be to me. It's directed at winning battles, and confusing your opponent is one of it's key elements. That is the last thing we want to do. Making your intentions clear one of the better ways to avoid a crash. Being aware of your situation and cognizant of what-if scenarios is probably helpful, though.

As I said on the original thread, negligence on both sides is the likely cause of that tragedy. The truck driver made a right turn from the #2 lane, and the cyclist went straight through a right turn lane.

I'm a simple person, and I try to follow simple rules to avoid crashes ... Good habits, if you will. It is one of the reasons I stop at stop signs. I understand that rolling through them can be reasonably safe if you check carefully for traffic, but in my mind, doing so eliminates an opportunity to break the chain of causation. I'm just not that confident of my ability to quickly assess whether it is clear, and all it takes is one mistake. I'd rather follow my simple rule and know that if I'm wrong, I'm giving the person who might hit me more time to see and avoid me.

Another of those simple rules is to never pass on the right. Not pedestrians on MUPs, not bicycles on the road, not automobiles. And when exceptions occur when I have no choice, I do so with great caution, because anything can happen.

So while I like the situational awareness thing, for me at least, I go with the simple boring rule-following paradigm.
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Old 04-19-16, 09:26 AM
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There are aspects of the OODC Loop and Situational Awareness that are not immediately clear how it could be directly applicable to the cyclist riding in any environment. If one considers that with every ride we learn / experience new situation(s) and develop a solution to the challenge presented to us to avoid accidents or simply inconveniences.

I agree totally with you desire to keep things simple. However, please consider you are actually using aspects of Situational Awareness and the OODC Loop to stay safe and respond appropriately to the challenge you are confronted with. These new experiences build on past experiences and the knowledge and skills gained help you respond appropriately to the situation you are confronted with.

We have all seen or possibly experienced the dreaded fall from not clipping out of the pedals. Possibly seen someone or experienced a car or pedestrian unexpectedly in your path and were able to safely navigate around the hazard versus going into panic mode and locking up the brakes to avoid a collision only to discover we responded to late, but were still lucky to avoid a crash

The OODA Loop and Situational Awareness do not require a foe / enemy that has to be overcome or beaten by breaking their OODA Loop. Training ourselves to be alert and oriented to our environment serves to make us better defensive drivers / cyclists and thus helps make us safer cyclists. The learning process happens every time we ride.

I agree with keeping it simple and relevant to the task at hand.
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Old 04-19-16, 05:00 PM
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I like the expression situational awareness because it accurately and concisely describes the state of mind needed best minimize risk. If we think of a sport analogy such as a situation that lends itself to a double play in baseball, or a hit and run or a stolen base, then the athlete is prepared to respond, not specifically to what is in front of him or her, but to what may happen. The athlete is responding or prepared to respond to something in the immediate future. In my opinion this is exactly the state of mind for maximum safety.
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Old 04-19-16, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
I like the expression situational awareness because it accurately and concisely describes the state of mind needed best minimize risk. If we think of a sport analogy such as a situation that lends itself to a double play in baseball, or a hit and run or a stolen base, then the athlete is prepared to respond, not specifically to what is in front of him or her, but to what may happen. The athlete is responding or prepared to respond to something in the immediate future. In my opinion this is exactly the state of mind for maximum safety.
I call it defensive riding. Same thing, though.
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Old 04-19-16, 07:26 PM
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My standard for riding is be predictable. Do on the bike as I would do in a car. My big fear is a car making a right turn in front of me. I have had it happen where a car/truck flies past me, hits the brakes and turns right into a driveway or side street. I've also had cars pass me, turn on the blinker and stop to let me pass back by them on their right. I will no longer do this, I take the lane behind them and sit up nice and tall so they can see me in their mirror, I feel much safer this way. And I have this burned into my brain, "The car will always win." I might be in the right, but I do not want to be dead right!
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Old 04-19-16, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by dannwilliams View Post
. And I have this burned into my brain, "The car will always win." I might be in the right, but I do not want to be dead right!
I want to be alive much more than I want to be right!

So, I am wth you on this one.

And, if I did do something to be "right" instead of alive, I know for sure my wife and kids would put something on my tombstone about it. Part of the reason I am going with cremated!
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Old 04-19-16, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Kindaslow View Post
I want to be alive much more than I want to be right!

So, I am wth you on this one.

And, if I did do something to be "right" instead of alive, I know for sure my wife and kids would put something on my tombstone about it. Part of the reason I am going with cremated!
Could not agree more! Might have the right away, but it will get you killed. Better not to force the issue and end up dead right!
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Old 04-20-16, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
I call it defensive riding. Same thing, though.
Years ago, I was certified as a driving instructor at work. One of our key points was to drive offensively, not defensively. The difference we were trying to get our students to grasp was that defensive driving is more reactive while offensive driving is more proactive. Instead of just thinking what the other person might do and how you'd react, look for ways to put yourself in a better position that will make it less likely to need to take evasive action.
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Old 04-20-16, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by CACycling View Post
Years ago, I was certified as a driving instructor at work. One of our key points was to drive offensively, not defensively. The difference we were trying to get our students to grasp was that defensive driving is more reactive while offensive driving is more proactive. Instead of just thinking what the other person might do and how you'd react, look for ways to put yourself in a better position that will make it less likely to need to take evasive action.
This was back in '73 but I remember what the 5 main points of safe driving that we were drilled in.

1. Get the big picture
2. Keep your eyes moving
3. Leave yourself an out
4. Be able to stop in the assured clear distance ahead
5. Aim high in your steering
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Old 04-20-16, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
This was back in '73 but I remember what the 5 main points of safe driving that we were drilled in...
My most memorable quote from Driving School, seemed to an off-handed remark, or perhaps an aphorism that has served me well as a driver and a cyclist: “You don’t really have the right-of-way until someone yields it to you."

That instructor also gave me a simple step by step process to parallel park virtually perfectly, and patiently allowed me to practice driving a stick shift on the driving course. All the rest I think came from experience on the road.
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Old 04-20-16, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
My most memorable quote from Driving School, seemed to an off-handed remark, or perhaps an aphorism that has served me well as a driver and a cyclist: “You don’t really have the right-of-way until someone yields it to you."

That instructor also gave me a simple step by step process to parallel park virtually perfectly, and patiently allowed me to practice driving a stick shift on the driving course. All the rest I think came from experience on the road.
We had 3 teens and the instructor in our LTD. One day he showed me how to parallel park that boat/car in a tight spot. He taught me how to line it up and the whole process. The spot was barely big enough but he seemed to think we could do it. He would end up coaching me as I wiggled it in and parked by touch. We had big chrome bumpers and he said "park by feel", I said "WUT?!". Yup, back up until the bumpers touch, pull forward until bumpers touch and then split the difference. Crazy stuff but I loved it.
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Old 04-21-16, 07:22 AM
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Distractions: most of us also drive our cars, etc. What do we do in that car? Turn on the radio and listen to news, traffic report, talk shows, music. How distracting is that?
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Old 04-21-16, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
Distractions: most of us also drive our cars, etc. What do we do in that car? Turn on the radio and listen to news, traffic report, talk shows, music. How distracting is that?
IMO those audio inputs keep me focused, talk shows in particular, because they are free-flowing. I don't listen to audio books, because the driving is too distracting, and I keep backtracking to hear what I had missed.
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