Welcome to the first installment of the Wheel People Safety Corner. In this corner you’ll be seeing monthly tips and discussions of safety issues related to cycling. Our goals are simple-to keep you safer on the road, and to maintain good relationships with the communities in which we ride. Our motivation is simple, too-we actually care about you!
We want to do this by challenging you to think about how you ride so that you can identify ways to ride more safely and courteously than you already do. We will also encourage you to hone your riding skills so that you are better equipped to handle sticky situations when they arise. There are also some things we don’t want to do. First, we don’t want to tell you what to do. It’s a free country, and you’re a full-grown adult! The only time we may sound a bit preachy is when a member’s actions can impact the safety of others or our relationships with the communities in which we ride. Second, we don’t want to bore you to tears with mind-numbing drivel pitched at the lowest common denominator. You get enough of that already. Third, we don’t want to make you apprehensive. To the contrary, we want you to have the knowledge and skills that will make you more confident and comfortable on your bike.
Confidence is a key component of safety. It’s been argued that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks of injury. We just want to encourage you to push that risk/reward balance even further in your favor.
We will try to keep in mind a few premises as well. First, none of us has totally mastered safe and courteous riding. We can all do better. Second, you don’t have to be stupid to do stupid things. We experience many pressures to short cut safety, such as peer pressure, competitiveness, desire for riding efficiency (“What, me brake?”), fatigue, and anger. Third, you’re an intelligent, thinking person, and you like the idea of being safe and courteous when you ride. (Otherwise, you wouldn’t still be reading this.)
When it comes right down to it, safety is about the choices that you make all the time, whether they are thought out or simply habitual. For example, while cycling (or preparing to cycle) you may choose whether to a) check the condition of your bike, b) wear bright or dark clothing, c) signal your intentions, d) ride single file, e) follow another cyclist into an intersection, f) look behind you before moving to the left, or g) make an angry gesture at a rude motorist. The key is realizing that you are making these choices all the time, and that you can choose the safer course of action if it’s important to you.
Try this exercise. Each time you finish a ride, ask yourself “Where could I have made a safer/more courteous choice?” Think about all the points along the ride at which something could have gone wrong (even if it didn’t). Think about what information you took in, what information you may have overlooked, and how you reacted (or failed to react). What were your choices? Were the choices you picked the best ones?
You may want to check out John S. Allen’s “Street Smarts”, available at your favorite cycle shop or online at www.crw.org > Information > Street Smarts. We may add more safety-related content to our website as the season progresses.
To help us keep track of how we are doing, please report any injuries occurring on CRW rides to the .
Remember, safety is about choices. What choices will you make?
Note to Ride Leaders
You have the last and best opportunity to influence safety and courtesy on a CRW ride. Do you recite in monotone the safety tips from the “CRW Ride Leaders’ Guidelines”? Does your safety talk give the impression that you would really rather be riding? Suggestionthink about one or two safety/courtesy points that are really important to you, and focus your safety talk on those points. Keep it short. Be energetic and enthusiastic. Let your passion come through! You might be surprised by how influential you can be!