If you look on the National Bike Challenge website, you will notice that there is tab you can click on about bike safety. One the points made is the importance of being a predictable cyclist. What this means is biking in way such that your intentions are clear to the cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists around you. It is a really easy way to keep yourself safer and to not annoy those around you. (Think about how much love that pedestrian who suddenly walks into the middle of the bike path.)
It is something most of us could always get a little better at, myself included. For me, I can get lazy about signaling and such when I am tired or stressed. So here are a few tips on being predictable.
Motorists (should always) use turn signals and break lights to communicate with divers around them. This always for smoother traffic flow and reduces accidents and when used consistently. It is also something that we have all come to expect. (Think about how annoying it is when someone forgets a turn signal.) Bikers have their method of communicating their intentions in the form of hand signals. A diagram of the signals can be found bellow. Most of us who have been cycling for awhile are very familiar with the hand signals, but I will admit that I did not know what they were until I was about four month into commuting. A few notes about hand signals, most people expect you to signal by pointing to the direction you are turning. The left handed right turn signal is not as commonly used. I have also seen people indicate that they are stopping by putting a hand up. This is technically not correct, but look out for it. Also, if you are cycling in heavy bike traffic (awesome) take care not to be so exuberant with your signally that you hit the person next to you.
(image from https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/312586)
Remember when you where learning how to drive and you were interacted to always look ahead and anticipate the actions of others on the road and keep an eye out for obstacles? Same idea applies on the bike. Roads these days seem to be strewn with a series of obstacles. So far in my own commute, I have had to avoid pot holes, broken glass, ceiling tiles, banana peels, hammers, knives, plywood among other things. I promise you that I am not commuting in the suburbs of London not a video game. Sudden swerving is sometimes unavoidable, but if you know there is an obstacle coming there are a few things you can do to give the motorists plenty of time to react to you moving into the center of the lane.
|What my commute sometimes feels like|
Traffic weaving is practiced by both cyclists and motorbikes alike. This is when a two wheeled vehicle does things like weaving in and around a line of slow moving traffic, or making a third lane when none exists. The legalities on this practice vary from state to state and country to country. It is not a safe practice and is not recommended even when legal. Drivers will not know how to anticipate your next action if you are weaving around cars. It is better to wait in traffic than to jump unexpectedly in and out of it. Along those lines, it is neither legal or safe to weave on and off the sidewalks to get around slow moving traffic. Just do not do it.
There are times when you are cycling that the unexpected will happen and you will have to react. There could be a sudden obstacle in your path or you encounter unpredictable behavior from someone you are sharing the road or path with. In this case, do a quick check, if you have time, before you swerve to avoid. If you have cyclists behind you and you need to do a quick break, try to let them know verbally, if you do have time to signal. It is important to realize that this does not count as being an unpredictable cyclist in these cases.
So there you have it, a few tips on being predictable on the roads.
Is there anything I missed about being a predictable cyclist? Feel free to leave it in the comments below.