Safety Minute

Kerry Hefta

Two examples come to mind ...

Hwy 24 had road construction last year past Falcon. They narrowed the 4 lane road to 2 lanes and put up concrete barriers, but they also slowed the traffic down from 70 mph to 30 mph through the construction areas and doubled the speeding fine. What that did was the alert the motorists to expect delays or problems and slowed them down so an experienced steady cyclist could navigate the construction area easily and with no more danger than riding a wider road with possibly inattentive motorists traveling full speed!

The second example came recently on Hwy 105 going South between Palmer Lake and Monument. I am always apprehensive on this two lane relatively narrow road and the traffic was heavy. But southbound is downhill; so a cyclist speed is closer to the motorists and the group stayed relatively close. The traffic was forced to pay attention, slow down and go around each cyclist one at a time. I would judge that this type of condition is BETTER with more traffic than less in some ways - because the slowdown forced the drivers to pay attention. Northbound on the road in heavy traffic would still be problematic because the cyclists speed would be much less than the cars and the motorists would probably start to get impatient and take risks.

Inattention and driving to fasts is what causes most car/bicycle accidents; malicious drivers exist but are rare. So if you are in a situation where the motorists are in a heightened state of attention, the cyclist is better off even on roads which physically look intimidating.

‘Don't keep secrets’: That is probably where I got into trouble on my left turn boo-boo last year. So make sure the motorists and cyclists know when that turn is coming! But from a drivers perspective, that also requires for a cyclist to keep a straight line and stay predictable. For example, I've advised people to ride into the glass on the road rather than swerving into unaware traffic as it's better to have a flat than a crash!

‘Stay Steady’: This is a traffic skill but also a key group riding skill. In a group, this skill is crucial for smooth riding and avoiding crashes. Staying steady is key to comfortably riding double close to another rider. The goal for riding double is stay within 1 to 2 feet of the other rider. So if you are only comfortable 3 to 5 feet apart when riding double that will still take up half the road, and we know how that makes motorists feel.
BFC Feb 2013 - Volume 6, Issue 2, April 2013

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