As spring time nears and the weather is getting warmer and sunny, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to chat about riding outside and things we can do to make our rides worth it. Whether you are new to riding outside or pro, or prefer sticking on the turbo inside, These can still benefit your everyday ride.
I wrote this a while back after a friend of mine was hit and killed by a car. I really began to wonder how we can best be safe but still enjoy our outdoor rides. here are some tips and tricks.
“The Flow of bike and car traffic”
We have all been there before. On a lovely ride and then in a sweeping second, a car swipes by so close you know that if they were a millimeter close, you would be on the ground.
Cars. driving one can seem like second nature to you, but cycling alongside cars is another story. There are a multitude of factors that play a role in finding the flow with traffic as a cyclist. There has been a great surplus of cyclists on the road from the current pandemic we are all living through. This calls for some extra awareness on what steps to take to be safe as well as be aware of your surroundings. bicyclesafe.com provides great insight on how not to get hit by cars. It's the effort of both cyclist and Driver to stay alert and cautious of their current surroundings. Not all car drivers are bad and out to get you, there are some that can be rude, but it's important to remember the ones that have given you space on your ride. There are also cyclists who stretch the rules when riding and cause drivers to feel annoyed or scared to hit a cyclists. It's good to place yourself in each person’s shoes and look at the array of possibilities that could lead to certain conclusions of a car zooming by you.
A study from Science direct was conducted finding that even the shortest bike trips replaced by cars enabled better safety for both car accidents and bicycle accidents. That said, there is still push to get more people on bikes in cities and towns to reduce the carbon footprint, reduce car traffic and also improve psychological wellbeing of being out and active.
In all there it is never fun to have a close encounter with a driver on a ride you are enjoying. Here are some tips to find the flow with traffic and continue to enjoy your day of riding whilst being a good example for other fellow cyclists to learn and follow to create a community of positive energy towards cyclists on the road rather than a negative connotation of someone on their bike getting some fresh air.
Pick Your Route-
It can be nice to just hop on the bike and go outside for a ride, but sometimes it's good to incorporate a quick and easy map of your ride using and be planned and prepared with the knowledge of the busiest roads in your area. For example most cyclists in New York and California or any big city wouldn't plan to ride down the center of the busiest part of the city for a nice long ride with minimal stops. It is good to know the area you cycle in and if you are new or just visiting, it is a great opportunity to reach out to others and be aware of what roads seem to be busiest and which areas to avoid coming in contact with many other car traffic. There are many great mapping systems that incorporate heat maps of where other cyclists heavily travel which is a good indicator of roads that remain less busy with car traffic. Here are some popular and effective mapping systems that can be use to plan out your rides.
As a cyclist, you must be aware of all your surrounding hence why cycling feels so good as you are thriving in the moment due to the aspect of being in the current time and having to be aware of what is going on around you. This awareness is a great tool to have for when cycling along cars and being within car traffic. It allows for greater knowledge of following certain rules and finding the flow. This involves stopping at stop signs and being curious of other fellow humans and cars trying to get about as well. Further, it is nice to have some jams hooked up on your trusty headphones for the ride, but it it important to hear what goes on around as well. being on both trail and road, surrounding sounds play an important role in what is happened around us. So yes as much as it may be nice to have a full blasting playlist of some good old Green Day, maybe reducing that volume and taking one earbud out to better aware yourself in your current surroundings. In the long run, you don’t want to have a collision with someone on the road or trail because you couldn’t hear them coming.
Light it up! Even if it's day time! Front lights and ESPECIALLY rear lights are utmost important to being seen on the road. Going beyond just blinking lights, bright clothing and socks also are a great addition to being seen. If you are a dawn patrol rider or and evening warrior, lights become incredibly important to being seen on the road. Drivers can only have so much field of vision and having bright clothing and flashing lights is the best way to draw attention and be seen. Most drivers fall close to cyclists because they simply cannot see them before it's too late so drawing that attention will allow more time for drivers to react and be more cautious. many train tracks and stop lights have flashing and blinking lights to warn drivers and catch their eye and that goes to show that the psychological effect of flashing lights will push drivers to be more cautious and aware of the fellow cyclists going about their day.
-Expect the worst-
This is a great tip to any cyclist out on the road with cars. Always expect the worst to happen. That will prepare you where if the event were to actually happen, your reaction time will be much more attuned to stop and possibly save your life. Situations like this is to expect cars to turn out into you as drivers like to nudge out in order to see for other cars coming. Most don’t see cyclists quickly approaching so when you are in town or passing many turns, make eye contact with the driver and except them to turn out. Make sure they see you so you are not t-boned in the side. Another example is when you are in turning lanes and planning to go straight. It might be nice to move to the right to have extra space, but placing yourself in mid lane allows for drivers to know that you are going straight. And by any means PLEASE use your hand signals early if you are Turing. With that, also expect car doors to open when riding through a neighborhood. One way to make sure people aren’t in their car is to look into the drivers mirrors to see if there is anyone in the car. These moment s can happen so fast and can be hard to react to so positioning yourself a little further away from the car can also allow for better reaction time. In all eye contact with other drivers is an important tactic to help drivers be more aware cyclists.
-Place yourself In Their Position-
Driving may seem like an easy and safe task, but in the big picture it takes a lot of attention and skill to drive safely. That why impaired driving is NEVER recommended in any way. Most cyclists probably have driven at some point and it can be scary coming head on with other cars or colliding next to another car. Adding cyclists on the road is another actor to add to the fear so its good to place yourself in their shoes. Compassion can be hard when there are drivers out there that seem to not care, but there are many drivers that do care and don’t want to hit a cyclists as you would if you were driving. As frustrating as it is to yell and scream and even give a driver that flew close by you the bird, it is in best to stay calm and move on. Feeding to the negative energy of the driver will only make the more likely to drive close and not want to give the next fellow cyclists any room. This goes to the next point…
-“The Loaded Wave”-
One of my very favorites and one I created myself. I practice this every ride and have found that putting such positive energy out really keeps my ride fun but also can make others day.
The theory I came up with whilst riding and in a chipper mood.
I began to wave happily to drivers on the opposite side of the road coming my way. This would catch them off guard and the only thing they could do is either smile, or wave back which enabled good positive energy as they saw this cyclists waving excitedly their way.
I honestly loved to see how shocked people were when I waved like I almost knew them or they were a friend.
The practice of this loaded was to get into the psyche of the driver and make them feel less aggressive or inclined to speed past a cyclists they see as they will remember that one cyclists (ME) who went out or their way to wave happily.
This positive psychology is a great method to come together as a community and be seen as more than just an object to avoid on the road because cyclists rant objects, we are humans.
-Do your part-
With that, we as cyclists must do our part as well. Stretching rules and running through stop signs are never the answer to safety. Being aggressive and taking up the whole road causes issues so it is most important to do your part as a cyclists and do YOUR best to listen to your community guidelines and rules as well as be aware of the bike laws and rules of your town and location. Knowledge is power and knowing what you can do to listen and help that flow will only make your ride much more enjoyable than a big hospital bill or even a near death situation. Yes, events can happen that are not even a cyclists fault and it's hard not to dwell on those, but take the time to prepare well, do your park and go day by day.
This is a hard subject because their are so many viewpoints and thoughts on cycling with traffic and certain laws, but in retrospect, this enables creativity and the best way to take this on is to do YOUR best and even become creative with methods to be more visible and reduce collisions with cars is a friendly matter.
Let us know your ideas and tips and tricks to find the flow with and around car traffic. And with that, we here at Canyon Ranch Wish you a safe ride!
“One cyclist tied this bright noodle to the back of his bike, exactly the width of his handlebars, to show drivers how much space he takes up on the road.”
Hope you got some cool tips and tricks along with awareness on how to make the Best ride for you and continue to push out positive vibes for other cyclists. Let Me know if you have any other fun tips and tricks you do for when you ride outside.
Be Kind, Do Fearless