(Did I get your attention?)
I’m a cyclist…
A cyclist who has had several close calls with automobiles (including tonight) and even been sideswiped once this year. I wear bright and reflective clothing. I always have a tail light flashing (even in the broad daylight). I’m careful. I get it. I’m a Cyclist!
I’m a driver…
I drive my kids 30 minutes to school every morning. I own a convertable and love to put the top down and just…. drive! I enjoy the country roads. I enjoy the Dan Ryan Expressway. I’m aware. I’m safe. Being a cyclist makes me a better driver. All that to say…
I’m gonna take off my cycling helmet and go on a motorist’s rant.
I had two run-ins this morning with cycling noobs. They didn’t look like noobs, but they acted like noobs.
Scenario #1 – The aggressive kamikazee
This is the guy who approaches a major intersection with cars lined up, and proceeds to pass everyone and run right through turning traffic without ever looking or slowing.
Scenario #2 – The clueless center of attention
(Evidently) This person wanted to turn left across four lanes of traffic. How did I know? Well, she was meandering around and between cars across all lanes through the intersection. When I came to the corner to turn right she was headed right toward me and into my lane. I looked her right in the eye and came to a stop in traffic. She just looked at me and made no indication of what she was doing. Impressive balance, but that’s about all that was impressive.
These are the people that give cyclists a bad name. I’M A CYCLIST AND IT TICKED ME OFF! C’mon you noobs! Get with it and get smart! If you don’t care about your own safety, fine. You wanna be a hood ornament that’s your choice, but I prefer to live without the image of your sorry spandex flying across the hood of my car, and I definitely don’t want my girls learning that cycling is dangerous because you choose to be an idiot!
(deep breaths… deep… cleansing… breaths)
- Use your hand signals people! Do I need to go over this? You point the direction you intend to go. You point down with an open palm when you are slowing down. Not rocket science people.
- Be Predictable. If I’m turning left across traffic I get into the turn lane early and signal the whole way. Leave no doubt in anyone’s mind as to what you will and are doing.
- Talk to Drivers. When I’m at an intersection with a car next to me I wave to the driver and get their attention. Then I tell them, through gestures or actual conversation, what I’m intending to do. “I’m gonna go straight and get all the way over to the right.” Or, “I’m gonna turn left with you but all the way to the outside.”
- Read the Eyes. Make eye contact with every driver who will come into your path. When a car pulls up to the intersection I’m about to go through I will often slow until I look them in the eye. That’s the most certain way to know they see you, and I have found that in some way I can discern their intentions by reading their eyes.
In the end, it’s not always up to you.
You’re going to run into (pardon the pun) clueless automobile drivers. They WILL pull out into your path. They will come too close. For some it doesn’t matter how careful they are, accidents happen. But let’s do the best we can to be as safe as possible. Better to communicate with them before they communicate with us (if you catch my drift. Hand gestures go both ways.).
Enjoy the Ride My Friends!
How about you? What safety tips would you offer? Let’s get a good list going here people!