Safety Corner logo

Where we’ve been—where we’re headed

Safety Corner logoSafety Corner has covered a lot of ground this year. Among the topics covered, we introduced our “Share the Road” campaign, establishing four safety-related priorities for 2005, followed up by four articles, each dedicated to one priority:
1) Keeping to the Right in Traffic2) Yielding at Intersections3) Staggering Ride Starts4) Developing Skills.

Keeping Right: Riding to the right, in single file, when traffic approaches poses a continuing challenge for our club. This was the top riding behavior issue flagged by CRW ride coordinators at an October 23 meeting. We like to ride side-by-side so we can chat, feel more like a cohesive group, and/or ride in a double pace line. Trouble is, when traffic approaches, we block the way. Singling up at the first sign of approaching traffic is a) courteous (traffic can overtake us more quickly and easily), b) safer (motorists can see ahead better for safer passing), and c) consistent with Massachusetts law. Of course, there are times when it’s appropriate for a cyclist to ride in the middle or on the left side of the travel lane, but times of inattention are not among them.

Yielding at Intersections: There are primarily two forces working against us here—one, we hate to kill our momentum, and two; we don’t want to fall behind our riding group. Be prepared to stop before entering any intersection where other traffic has the right of way. Enter an intersection only when you can clearly see that it’s safe to proceed. Don’t worry about keeping up with your group. If they don’t have the courtesy to let you catch up, find another group.

Staggering Ride Starts: Ride leaders stagger starts by releasing riders in smaller groups, separated by a brief wait (typically about 90 seconds). This is becoming more common on our rides, and riders (and leaders) are growing more accustomed to the practice. Staggering ride starts is safer and more fun for cyclists, and it’s courteous to motorists who can find it difficult to pass large groups safely.

Developing Skills: Most bike crashes don’t involve motorists, pedestrians, or dogs. 59 percent of crashes are simple falls, 14 percent are collisions with fixed objects, and 9 percent are collisions with other cyclists. All cyclists should continually strive to hone their bike-handling skills. Learn to minimize weaving, look behind you (without relying on a mirror), ride without using your hands (as a drill), steer around obstacles, make quick turns and quick stops, and hop over obstacles. If you can’t safely avoid a slippery surface, coast over it without turning or braking. Don’t “scooter” to start moving from a stop. Instead, raise one pedal and push down on that pedal to lift you onto the saddle and start moving forward. Consider a course, such as Bicycling Skills (offered by MassBike).

Where we’re headed: The CRW Safety Committee is hard at work planning activities for 2006. While the details have yet to be finalized, we hope to bring you more opportunities for skills development, including formal training courses and short, informal coaching sessions just prior to, or during, major rides. Of course, all this is contingent upon finding volunteers to plan and instruct these sessions. We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas while we are in the planning stage. Please contact us at or 617-489-5913.

Remember—safety is about choices. What choices will you make?

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