Tuesday, October 14, 2014
How Not To Get Killed In Traffic
They don't teach Driver's Education in most schools any more and I tend to think that is why we so many hazardous actions on the road these days. Or maybe it is just common sense and courtesy that seem to be lacking. So, I'd like to take this opportunity to share some of the things I've learned through educational opportunities and real life experience.
In most states a cyclist is required to follow the same laws as motor vehicles. You ride on the right side of the road, if the traffic light is red, you stop. If there is a Stop sign, you stop. Crosswalks are for pedestrians. If you wish to use the crosswalk, WALK your bike across, if you are riding you aren't a pedestrian. Use a headlight and don't dress in all dark colors.
Most importantly, it doesn't matter how "right" you think you are, you are still a person on a bike, if you tangle with a car, truck, bus or whatever, you are going to lose. Is it really worth it?
Crosswalks are there for a reason. Use them. Cross with the light, not against it. Trying to run across a 5 lane street, at night, in dark colors is a recipe for disaster. If you don't care about your own life, think of the kids you're dragging across the street with you.
When two vehicles come to a 4-way stop at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way. However, you don't want to be dead right. Once you have mastered the 4-way Stop, think about this: What do you do if you approach an intersection where the traffic lights are out? You treat it like a 4-way Stop! Everyone gets a turn, just like you teach your kids, wait your turn and take your turn. Nice and polite.
Speaking of polite, do you know why they start putting lane closed signs so far back from where the lane is actually closed? That's right, so you have plenty of time to safely and politely change lanes well in advance of the closure. It doesn't mean rush right up the side to the blockade and force your way in. This is in direct contrast to how you handle a Gore Zone, where you want to go all the way to the end before changing lanes. In some states, like Arizona, crossing a gore zone will get you a hefty citation.
Lane sharing, except by two bicycles or motorcycles, is prohibited for all other vehicles. Just because that bike is only using one third of the lane is not an invitation for you to join them. Stay in your lane, be respectful of the your following distance.
You didn't think I was going to leave you out, did you? I don't care how rad your skills are wheelies, stoppies, trick riding and high speeds belong on the track or other designated course, not on the highway. Be courteous, don't be cutting in and out of traffic, use your turn signals and if you don't have self cancelling ones, don't forget to turn them off.
I guess that is about it for now. Remember good manners and common sense will help keep you out of trouble on the road regardless of your role.