Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to avoid getting killed on your bike

Riding a bike twelve miles each way into the city has given me a lot to think about lately. Especially after the latest two fatalities in Park Slope over the past couple of weeks. But still, given the benefits of getting a great workout on a daily basis. The positive hopefully still out-weighs the negative.

And there are some things you can do to help make your trip a lot safer. Some are in the book, while others are not. Here are some that work for me every day.

The first thing you always need to do is wear a helmet.
And ladies, I know I’m going to get some nasty comments, but you don’t like to wear helmets, do you? Because, I see a lot more women riding in Brooklyn and Manhattan every morning WITHOUT helmets than men. And I don’t want to hear anything about messing up your hair either, because the pavement takes no prisoners when your bare skull hits it. So please wear your helmets, because it may save your life one day, and I know my “helmet hair” looks worse than yours.

Wear a dorky “DayGlo” green jacket.
Yes, I wear my “pain in the ass” bright green jacket every day. In fact I got it from a mail order place that sells construction equipment. So it was a hell of a lot cheaper than one from Paragon or a bike store. The people at work call me a “fireman”, but at least I get to work everyday, and it probably saved my ass more than once.

The other night driving home from Fort Greene, there was a woman riding her bike on PPW without a helmet, all dressed in black, and without a light on her bike. Oh, It was also raining. That’s how you get killed in the boro of my birth people, and it’s not very hard.

Do NOT listen to music when you ride on the street.
OK, now you are just asking for trouble. When you ride on the streets you just can’t be listening to music on your iPod. It totally shuts you out from the “street noises” you need to be aware of. The sound of a truck or car engine revving towards you, tires rolling against the pavement, a horn, so on and so forth. It may be boring riding without music, but once again it may save your life.

Do NOT totally trust bike lanes
“Oops, sorry, I didn’t see you”. When someone opens up their door and you fall in front of the wheels of a truck on Third Street. Not very pretty, huh? When I ride in a bike lane I always ride far enough to the right, so if someone opens up their car door it will miss me. I kind of straddle the white line that divides the bike lane and the street. Many fatalities happen when people open up their car doors and deflect the bike rider into the street. Anytime I ride against parked cars I always ride far enough to miss getting hit by a swinging door. I also "scan" through the windows of parked cars looking for a person’s head looking to open a door when I ride.

Oh, and buy the way, the newest bike lane on Broadway in Manhattan between 42 and 34 street totally sucks. It is placed right next to the sidewalk and is chock full of pedestrians every night at five o’clock. Another waste of taxpayer money, and very difficult to ride in.

Watch out for oil slicks, green anti-freeze, etc. Even the best rider will slip and slide on "ice of summer".

Never find yourself between a large truck and a parked car. Do whatever you can to never be in that sitiuation.

I personally like to "ride high" and look over the tops of cars, it gives me a great view of whats behind another car.

Never "dare" a truck or car, because you will always loose.

There are more, and I’m sure the “book” has them. But these are just some that may save your life. Even today when you ride to work.

Ron Lopez
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Anonymous said...

I would add another one. Obey traffic signals. It's the law. And it's the law for a reason.

I reached a point where I started to really hate cyclists in the city. I didn't know why. I fully support bike riding and think it's great. So why was I so angry at cyclists all the time?

Then I realized... it's because so many cyclists don't obey traffic signals.

I can't tell you how many times I see bike riders just whizz through red lights. This is very dangerous to pedestrians -- I have come close to being hit more than once when I had the right of way and was walking in a crosswalk. Failing to heed traffic signals is also dangerous because cars expect other vehicles to obey those lights, and a bike rider that flies past a stopped truck or SUV into traffic, when they don't have the right of way, is sometimes hard to see.

So, if you're on the roads, obey the traffic signals.

And please don't ride on the sidewalks. It may be safer to the cyclist, but it puts pedestrians in jeopardy.


clueuin said...

But look at the bright side at least your not riding in Williamsburg! LOL

Never learn to ride, wish I could. If I did I would obey all traffic laws and wear a helmet. (Hey, luckly for some African-American women like me, we don't get helmut hair. At least not bad enough to notice. LOL) clue

His Sir Legend Koolness said...

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Anonymous said...

In 2013, feel like I found this place in the library stacks, but agree with everything I read.

However, how do you feel about running red lights slowly and safely?

For example, being skillful enough to slow enough to look all 4 directions and then, only when there are no motor vehicles or pedestrians anywhere around, treating stop as yield?

Pedestrians do it under those conditions all the time in any kind of city or town, and no one complains. It's sort of the right-turn-on-red for the rest of us.