I’m happy to announce this Bike Safe Boston special guest post by Doug Reich of Weather Out There. Doug’s an avid cyclist and bike geek sharing what he learns about transportation cycling in a practical, engaging way.
When I asked Doug why he started his blog, here’s what he had to say:
I started my blog to answer the question I get most in my office, which is “you didn’t ride in that weather today, did you?” (the answer was always, “yes, I did”). To me, they were really asking about how I stayed warm and dry. At first, I put up posts that simply listed the conditions and my attire, with the idea that a novice may find that information helpful. After a week, that got painfully dull, so I branched out into giving some public service information, on topics such as maintenance and basic bike knowledge. I’m in the process of switching careers to work in bikes full time, so the blog should evolve in an interesting way over the next few weeks as I make that switch.
Nice. Now, let’s get to Doug’s post!
I don’t remember what exactly spurred me to start riding a bike for transportation three years ago. But I bought an ancient road bike for $90 and rode it home.
On that trip, the front derailleur broke and I discovered the brakes were all but useless. I also had no education on safe road riding (stay out of the way of the cars?) and my behavior on the street was in accordance both with the miserable condition of my ride and my scofflaw role models: delivery bikers and messengers.
Thankfully, I wizened up. Fed by a combination of shell shock from near-misses and righteous indignation of the same, I began reading guides on safe cycling.
The one that had the most impact on me, even almost written for me, was the website Bicycle Safety: How to Not Get Hit by Cars (Maybe everyone feels that website is written for them after a few trips to the jungle!). Their mantra, be visible, is the same one I gladly tell anyone who listens.
Whereas drivers are never trained to deal with bikes safely, most bikers don’t reflect on that fact — nor on the fact that most drivers aren’t “looking for them”. As absurd as that may sound (do you only see what you’re looking for?), the practical solution is to make yourself obvious on the road despite the most bone-headed maneuvers that would threaten you.
The Bicycle Safe website offers the sound advice of riding away from parked and stopped cars, as well away from the curb and off the sidewalk where cars might pull out into you. Don’t ride or stop in vehicles’ blind spots, go through lights, or ride the wrong way.
I once was riding down a one-lane street and someone on a cruiser bike coming the wrong way almost hit me head on: I exclaimed that it was a one way street, to which he indignantly shouted “You gotta be kidding me!”. I still wonder what he expected to happen going against traffic?
There is more to bike safety than this, notably when riding at night (start by getting really bright lights) or dealing with belligerent drivers (they are piloting a lethal weapon; don’t encourage them to use it). But, in your everyday life, making sure drivers see you (even when they’re not looking) is the biggest step towards safety and comfort on the road.
— Doug Reich
IMAGE via flickr
Want to read previous Bike Safe Boston guest posts?