Thursday, August 13, 2009

Smart Cycling: Traffic Skills 101

Dear fellow bike commuters,
I gotta tell you I thought that I knew how to ride a bike.
Here are some highlights from the traffic skills 101 class that I took last month:
1. Take your lane.
You are entitled to take the lane width that you need.
I have been practicing this more since the class and it has been successful. I have been riding about 3 to 4 feet from the curb or parked cars. A good rule of thumb is in the right hand tire tracks of cars.
2. Don't cut through traffic on the right at lights.
I realize that that does take some fun out of it when you have to wait for all of the cars in front of you at a stop sign or light but it is safer and further defines your position as a vehicle on the road.
3. Signal.
Pretty self explanatory. Let the other vehicles on the road know what you are doing.
4. Turn like a car.
That means if you are going to turn left then do it from the left hand turn lane. Yes, you can do it. Yield to traffic, signal and change lanes. It really is quite empowering once you start to do it.
5. Ride like you are a car.
Ride with traffic. Sounds simple but now I am actually noticing all of the idiots out there that ride against traffic! 14% of all biking accidents are caused by riders failing to ride with traffic.
6. Learn how to stop on a dime.
Sounds easy but it takes a little practice so you don't launch yourself over the bars.
7. Know your gears.
For good efficiency and lowest impact on the body, most people find a pedaling cadence of 75-95 revolutions per minute to be optimal. I have geared down and it has improved my ride quite a bit.
8. Get some bright lights and clothing.
Be safe, be seen!
In a nutshell, the best thing to do is to act like all the other vehicles on the road.

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