Thursday, October 14, 2010

Toward a unified rule for biking safely

Biking on the road can be complicated -- and, obviously, dangerous. There are a lot of different situations, which require different kinds of alertness and preparedness. But, there are a bunch of problems that can be avoided by following one simple rule: when car traffic slows, watch out!

How could the woman on bike avoid hitting the man on foot yesterday? The report indicates that traffic had stopped. Traffic doesn't stop just to give cyclists a reminder of how much more efficient biking can be. Traffic stops for some activity that's likely going to have an impact on the bicyclist. In this case, traffic stopped for a pedestrian in the crosswalk. In the case of the man hit this summer at Beacon and Grant, traffic stopped to allow an eastbound car to turn left on Grant into the path of the cyclist. In the case of the woman hit on Beacon and St. Thomas More, traffic stopped to allow a car to turn.

Whatever traffic is stopping for either poses a potential threat to a cyclist (a turning car) or is a potential victim for a cyclist (a pedestrian entering the roadway). If you're on a bike, be ready to stop, get hit, or hit someone else.

Abiding the rule is not going to prevent every harm. It won't protect you from getting hit from behind or doored. But, it covers a lot of situations.

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