A hot potato that tend to always bring up a fierce debate, is cyclists and how we behave in traffic. It's a pity that it is us cyclists who always seem to take the blame for the accidents, not the people walking their dogs or the pedestrians moving around with their necks stuck in forward position, not to mention the king-of-the highway people driving their cars. In the end of the day it's about safety for all of us, not just cyclists, car drivers or pedestrians alone!
We should all be aware that there are others around, stepping out of the car, check the mirror for incoming traffic, changing lane even when walking, watch over your shoulder for incoming runners, cyclists and other traffic, when riding your bike and there are children ahead, act as if they for sure would have to make you stop, because they can. And one thing that I always try to remember, if someone stops to let you pass, even if they would have to according to the rules, be polite and thank them anyway!
Things I've noticed are really important when being out cycling:
- Make eye contact with car drivers when approaching intersections
- Keep your head up, don't just stare down in front of your front wheel
- Be aware, don't expect all the others to follow or know the rules
- Let the others know what you do, the earlier the better, clear messages and hand gestures!
- Turn that head, your neck can do it
Attitudes are always attached to cultures. During 2009-2010 I lived in Italy for almost a year. First I was a bit afraid of the fact that there were no bikelanes, and I heard the traffic is crazy there. They proved me wrong. I could never ever had imagined how people respect you as a cyclist, because in Finland you are mostly seen as a person who, according to car drivers should never ride on the road, and according to pedestrians should never ride on the bikelanes either. In Italy things are different. I remember started laughing once when I approached a roundabout and the traffic from all directions stopped well before I got there just to make sure I could make my ride smooth. I smiled and waved at all of them and had a really pleasant ride, just thinking about what happened.
A recent study by Frank Bensch (Department of Diagnostic Radiology Helsinki University Central Hospital University of Helsinki, Finland):
Sport and recreational accidents had an overall incidence of injury of one in five,of which 71 % were considered to be serious. The three most common types ofserious injury were intracranial injury, fractures of facial bones, and vertebralinjuries. The most common accident mechanisms were bicycling, horsebackriding, and team ball sports, with bicycling causing most frequently seriousinjury.
There is a great picture with superb instructions for both cyclists and drivers made by Lawrence Ulrich, how to drive around cyclists:
Also read these great articles about the same topic:
So read these, especially the lessons by Lawrence Ulrich, and drive safe! The roads are for all of us!