How to Avoid Traffic Accidents
Accidents Not Covered
In this discussion,
I am not going to try to deal with three causes of accidents: 1) deficient
bike-handling skills, 2) risky behavior and stunts, and 3) risk-taking
in competition. One can avoid the first through practice on back roads
and parking lots while the latter two are voluntary behaviors anyway. Nor am I
going to deal with bikepath accidents because, in my opinion, mixing
pedestrians, dogs on leashes, rollerbladers, and incompetent bike riders
on a narrow path with short sight distances and tight curves is a sure recipe
for injury. Finally, I will not be looking at general accident avoidance,
as I have already done so in my previous articles. Instead, I will be focusing
on how to avoid specific collisions between bikes and motor vehicles, the
cause of almost all fatalities and serious injuries.
General Safety Rules
As I already discussed in
"How to Ride in Traffic" and will therefore just point out here, there are five general ways
to avoid traffic accidents: 1) obey the traffic laws, 2) keep alert (watch
for the other's guy's mistakes), 3) be visible, 4) take the least traveled
way, and 5) keep the bike in good repair. Behaving in this fashion will keep cycling
very safe. Not behaving in this fashion increases the opportunity for collisions.
This article will look at specific types of accidents, why they occurred, and how they could have been prevented. Rather than collisions having mysterious and unavoidable causes,
they occur due to 1) a failure to behave safely or to 2) a delay in reacting to others' unsafe behavior.
My Source of Cycling Accident Statistics
I have taken my
information about car-bike collisions from A
Crash-Type Manual for Bicyclists by Carol Tan. Wayne Pein, who contributes
to rec.bicycles.soc and rec.bicycles.misc, did much of the work on this
manual. This work was based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
bicycle typologies which I believe were developed from the studies by Cross
and Fisher. The information which I provide on how to avoid these accidents,
however, is completely my own. In an earlier article, written for rec.bicycles.misc,
I tried to determine who was at fault, even though such a determination
was not in the original. In this article, I will ignore fault and focus
on accident avoidance.
Safety Disadvantages and Advantages of Riding a Bicycle
There are three
important characteristics of motor vehicle-bike collisions that put the
cyclist at a great disadvantage: 1) the motor vehicle is big, 2)
heavy, and 3) usually moving fast. However, there are also two other
characteristics that give the cyclist the advantage: 1) the bicycle permits
better sensory awareness and 2) faster turning ability. The sensory awareness
includes hearing as well as sight; when I am on a winding road, I can hear
some idiot approaching at too high a speed long before I can see him. Using
my stereophonic hearing, I can tell if the car behind is passing correctly
without moving my head. As to sight, I can see well over 180°
unobstructed, and a quick glance to the left and right extends this to 270°
more. My two-wheeled turning ability allows me to turn 90° at any
speed, and I can leave the road at any time without getting seriously hurt.
It Takes Two for a Collision
Very much in the
cyclist's favor is the simple fact that it takes two to have a collision.
One person must break the law while the other is not watching or both must
break the law at the same time or one must ignore safety considerations
while the other pays no attention or both must ignore the safety considerations
at the same time. Basically, this means that nearly every accident is avoidable,
at least for someone on a highly maneuverable bicycle who is playing close
attention and is already prepared to react. The exceptions would be 1) when
the cyclist is moving very slowly or is stopped, 2) when the cyclist can't turn out
of the way due to other cyclists, traffic, or other barriers (for instance a wall or bluff
next to the roadway), or 3) if the motor vehicle
should change directions quicker than the cyclist can react (due to momentum, this
is unlikely; however, if one vehicle should hit another, it's quite possible).
Of course, motorists can't depend on avoiding collisions: their vehicles
are too fast, too wide, too unmaneuverable, and too restricted in vision; therefore,
they have to depend on seatbelts and airbags instead.
The Advantage of Visibility and Maneuverability
Mark Twain wrote
about a tourney in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court that illustrates
this point well. To battle the knights of the Round Table, Sir Boss
refused the heavy horse, strong armor, stout shield, heavy lance, and blinding
helmet and instead mounted a light-weight steed while wearing tights and
using a lasso. With their bulk, weight, and poor vision, the knights had
no possibility of catching him, so he was easily able to slap them on their
backs before he finally lassoed them in. On the highway, I have had motorists
deliberately try to hit me or to run me off the road and fail for the same
reason. The speed of the car was of no help to them. A car at 60 mph is
moving at 88 feet per second while my bike, at 15 mph, is moving only at 22 feet
per second. But the bike only needs to move a few feet to be out of the pathway of
the car, and I can turn off the road at full speed and thus be out of the way
in an instant, or I can jam on my brakes, stopping much quicker than
the motorist can react, and watch the car rush by.
Bike-Car Collision Groups
doesn't help everyone. Here are the actual bike-car collisions which
are occurring on our roads. I will provide the percentages of accidents
that they represent, but it must be noted that accidents will vary from
region to region and from one type of cyclist to another, so these percentages
may not be very significant in telling you what kind of accident to look
out for. I have combined these accidents into several groups of my own
choosing to give a better prospective of the whole.
Group I crashes (21.3% of all collisions) are all road entry collisions. They consist of collisions between a bike rider entering the road and a motor vehicle traveling on the road (12.5% of all collisions) or between a motor vehicle entering the road and a bike rider traveling on the road (8.8% of all collisions).
Group II crashes (54.3%) are all intersection collisions. Either the bike rider failed to yield for the other vehicle (16.8%), the motorist failed to stop (12.7%), the cyclist was turning (6.5%), the motorist was turning (15.4%), or the details are unclear (2.9%).
Group III crashes (15.9%) are all straightaway collisions. Either the control of the bike or motor vehicle was faulty (4.5%) or the motor vehicle was passing the bicycle (8.6%) or one of the vehicles was on the wrong side of the road (2.8%)
Group IV crashes are hard to define. Some did not happen on the road (4.2%), and some involved strange or unknown events (2.8%).
Group I -- Collisions while Entering the Roadway
The Group I collisions
all involve collisions in which either the cyclist or the motorist was entering the roadway. Accidents could be avoided here through observing two simple safety procedures: 1) Always stop and look before pulling onto a street and 2) watch carefully any vehicles that could be entering, especially the ones that are nearby.
Group IA -- Cyclist Entering the Roadway
There were four distinct
types in which the cyclist entered the road: 1) In the most frequent (5.1% of all crashes
of which 24% were serious or fatal), the cyclist entered the road from
a residential drive. Children up to fourteen were involved 85% of the time,
and in one fifth of the cases, some obstruction partially blocked the view.
2) A very similar accident involves the cyclist leaving a commercial driveway
in the same fashion (2.3% of which 22% were serious or fatal). The ten
to fourteen age group had 45% of these collisions. 3) The cyclist enters
the road from a sidewalk (4.4% of which 20% were serious or fatal. In one
in five cases, vision was partially blocked. Children up to fourteen were
involved in over 70% of these accidents, and 45% of the adults over 25
had been drinking. 4) The cyclist enters the road from a sidewalk via a
driveway, 70% of them moving against traffic (.7% of which 18% were serious
or fatal). About 90% of these cyclists are under 19. All
of these accidents could have been avoided by the cyclist using more care
when entering the roadway.
Group IB -- Motorist Entering the Roadway
There were three distinct
types in which the motorist entered the road: 1) In the first, the motorist
exits from a driveway (6.9% and 7% serious or fatal). One fifth of
the cyclists were on the sidewalk, and more than two thirds were traveling
the wrong way. Few young children were involved in these accidents. 2)
The motor vehicle was backing out of the driveway (1.6% of which 2% were
serious or fatal). Nearly 40% of the time, the accident happen in a drive
or parking lot. The cyclists were children under fourteen about 55% of
the time. 3) The motorist was parallel parking or leaving such a space
(.3% of which 11% were severe or fatal). This accident happened to teen
and adult cyclists. All of these collisions are best
avoided by carefully scanning the edges of the roadway and by predicting
the driver's behavior. Some drivers have deliberately pulled out in front
of me at the last moment, hoping to hurt me; however, when I see a car
containing a motorist in a driveway, I am immediately on my guard.
Group II -- Collisions at Intersections or When Turning
The Group II collisions,
over 50% of the total, happened at intersections or when turning. If driveway
collisions are added to this group, over 75% of all bike-car collisions
are of this type. Since only a very small part of the cyclists time is
spent at intersections, it makes sense to use special caution under these
conditions. Many motorists don't know how to react to cyclists on the road,
speed through intersections without looking, or run lights and stop signs,
so I watch all motor vehicles carefully.
Group IIA -- Cyclist Not Yielding
There are two cases
of cyclists not stopping at the intersections, 1) at a stop sign or flashing
red (9.7% of which 23% were severe or fatal), 2) at a intersection with
a traffic light or no signal where the cyclist should have yielded (7.1%
of which 16% were severe or fatal). Children under fourteen were more likely
to be involved in these accidents (70% and 55%).
The clear way to avoid these accidents is by stopping at intersections
where the other vehicle has the right of way. If there should be doubt as
to who has the right of way, yield anyway.
Group IIB -- Motorist Not Yielding
There are five kinds
of collisions in which the motorist did not yield at an intersection, with
the first type by far the most common: 1) The motorist was leaving from
a stop sign (9.3% of which 10% were serious or fatal). While it is
surely the obligation of the motorist to look both ways, in 60% of the
cases, the bicyclist was traveling on the wrong side. 2) The
motorist ran the stop sign or signal (1.5% of which 11% were severe or
fatal). These accidents happened most often to cyclists 15 to 24
years old. 3) The cyclist was crossing multiple lanes and was hit
by a car on the outside after the light turned green (.9% of which 15%
were severe or fatal). In this case, the cyclist was assuming that all
vehicles would wait and was not watching them. 4) The cyclist did
not clear the intersection, and visibility was not blocked (.5% of which
7% were severe or fatal). Cyclists tended to be 10 to 19 or over
65 years old. 5) The motorist failed to yield under other circumstances
which are unclear (.5% of which 9% were severe or fatal).
to avoiding these traffic accidents is to keep the eyes on the vehicles
waiting at or approaching the intersection, with special emphasis on the
closest and fastest. In addition, don't be riding on the wrong side of the
road or in the crosswalk.
Group IIC -- Cyclist Turning
There are three kinds
of collisions in which the cyclist was turning; usually these did not happen
at intersections: 1) The cyclist made a left turn in front of the motorist
who was traveling in the same direction (4.3% of which 28% were severe
or fatal). About 45% happened to children 10 to 14. 2) The cyclist, riding
on the wrong side, made a right turn in front of the motorist traveling
in the same direction (1.4% of which 27% were serious or fatal). Children
below 14 had almost 65% of these accidents. 3) The cyclist made a left
turn in front of an on-coming motor vehicle (.8% of which 26% were severe
or fatal). Very young children were more often represented in this accident.
All of these accidents could be avoided by
traveling on the right side and paying attention to motor vehicles.
Group IID -- Motorist Turning
There are four kinds
of collisions in which the motor vehicle was turning: 1) The motorist made
a left turn in front of the cyclist (5.9% of which 24% were severe or
fatal). About 20% of these events happened at night and in another 15%
there was some visibility problem. The riders were 20 to 44 years old 70%
of the time. 2) The motorist made a right turn and struck the cyclist (4.7%
of which 11% were serious or fatal). In about 20% of these cases, the cyclist
was riding on the wrong side of the road, but at least 60% of the time,
the motorist turned in front of the cyclist (in the rest, the cyclist was
or could have been passing on the inside). Bike lanes were involved
8% of the time. 3) The motorist struck the cyclist while making a
right turn on red (3.6% of which 6% were serious or fatal). About 80% of
the cyclists were on the wrong side and 45% were riding in a crosswalk.
4) The motorist made a left turn in front of the cyclist when both were
traveling in the same direction (1.2% of which 9% were severe or fatal).
Almost 80% of the cyclists were traveling the wrong way, either on the
road or sidewalk. These collisions fall into two quite
different groups: one in which the cyclist, by riding on the wrong side
or sidewalk, was outside the vision of the motorist and the second in which
the motorist did, should have, or could have seen the cyclist, but refused
to yield. The solutions for these accidents are
1) to not bicycle on the sidewalk, 2) to ride on the right side of the road, 3) to
have a light at night, 4) to be assertive enough so the motorist notices you
(don't ride next to the gutter), 5) to be prepared to react if the motorist should
fail to react to your presence.
Group IIE -- Details Missing
There are two kinds
of collisions at intersections about which the details are unclear: 1)
At a stop sign or traffic signal (2.1% of which 16% were severe).
Cyclists were riding in crosswalks in 24% of these cases. 2) At an
uncontrolled intersection (.8% of which 14% were severe). Lack of details
prevents much comment: Obey the law and stay alert.
Group III -- Straightaway Collisions
Group III traffic
accidents mainly occur on straight roads and involve loss of control, improper
passing, and traveling the wrong way.
Group IIIA -- Faulty Control
There are four kinds
of collisions caused by faulty control: 1) The cyclist strikes a parked
vehicle (1.4% of which 10% were severe). Over 55% of the riders were 20
to 44 years of age. About 40% included some roadway or weather difficulty.
2) The cyclist strikes a slow or stopped vehicle (1.3% of which 5% were
severe). This accident has same associations as the former. 3) The
cyclist lost control (1.2% of which 33% were severe or fatal). Children
under nine and adults were involved. Over 40% of the adults 25 and
older had been drinking, and 14% of these happened on a curve. 4) The motorist
lost control (.6% of which 37% were severe or fatal). About 65% of
the motorists had been drinking, more than 40 percent happened in low light
conditions, and 45% on high speed roads. The
advice for this group of traffic accidents: don't drink and bicycle, watch
the road in front of the bicycle, keep the bike under control, and watch for
irregular or speeding behavior on the part of the motorist.
Group IIIB -- Motorist Passing Cyclist
There are five kinds
of collisions in which the motorist was passing the cyclist: 1) The motorist
was passing, details unclear (3.9% of which 28% were severe or fatal).
About 15% of these were at intersections, 9% on curves, and the rest on
straight-aways. Almost 40% happened at night. Over 40% were hit and run.
These accidents happened more on high-speed roads and mostly to adults.
About 16% of the cyclists and 6% of the motorists had been drinking.
2) The motorist was passing, but the cyclist swerved into his path (2.0%
of which 22% were severe). About 65% of these riders were under fourteen.
3) The motorist was passing and did not see the cyclist (1.3% of which
54% were serious or fatal). About 40% happened in darkness, another 20%
in poor light, and sun blinding occurred another 28% of the time. The cyclists
were almost entirely adults, 16% of which had been drinking (and 11% of
the motorists). 4) The motorist was passing and clipped the cyclist
(1.2% of which 22% were severe or fatal). More than 20% of these happened
at an intersection; 14% of the cyclists were on the shoulder and 5% in
a bike lane. These accidents happened to riders over 25 years old 65% of
the time. 5) The motorist was passing, and the cyclist struck an
object or the motor vehicle (.2% with none serious). These accidents are
the ones that scare most beginners and keep many people from riding on
the road. However, the cyclists are ignoring the traffic. The
use of lights at night would prevent many of these, and being especially
cautious during times of poor visibility (fog, low sun, twilight) could
prevent others. When cars are passing, keep an ear and the corner of an
eye on them, and be prepared to brake or turn off of the roadway.
Group IIIC -- Wrong Way
These collisions are
caused by the cyclist or motorist traveling the wrong side of the road: 1) The cyclist
was riding against traffic (2.7% of which 32% were severe or fatal). The
age of the cyclists followed the normal distribution. More than 25%
happened after dark and 22% of the cyclists over 25 had been drinking.
2) The motorist was on the wrong side (.1% of which 33% were severe). Being
on the wrong side is a major cause of motor vehicles accidents, but due
to the characteristics of the bicycle, this accident is rare for cyclists.
accidents can be avoided by riding with the traffic and away from
the middle of the road. Don't hesitate to get off of the road when you see a swerving motorist.
Group IV -- Untypical Collisions
These collisions are
untypical of most accidents.
Group IVA -- Off-Road or Play Vehicle
These collisions either
happened off of the road or involved non-road vehicles and involved mainly
young children: 1) The cyclist and the motorist collided in a parking lot
or drive (3.7% of which 11% were severe). About 65% of the cyclists were
under fourteen. 2) The child (nine or under) was riding a big wheel, tricycle,
or bicycle with training wheels (.5% of which 28% were serious). About 37% happened off-road and 44% of
the motor vehicles were moving backwards. These accidents
can be avoided by teaching our children to be careful, by watching them
while they are riding, and by being careful ourselves when operating motor
vehicles near them.
Group IVB -- Strange or Unknown
These collisions have
odd characteristics or the events are unknown: 1) Unknown collisions are
ones for which not enough evidence is available to classify (1.7% of which
11% were severe or fatal). About 30% happened in the dark, 46% were hit
and run, and weather or visibility was involved 44% of the time.
2) "Weird" accidents involve unexpected features, such as deliberate assaults,
falling cargo, or equipment on the road (1.1% of which 22% were severe).
About 30% were in poor light, 24% were deliberate assaults, and 24% were
hit and run. These accidents can be avoided
by paying attention to odd situations and occurrences.
In looking at accidents,
I have looked at common ones that happened to other people. Now,
I want to look at some tricky ones that nearly happened to me. Or at least they
seemed especially tricky to me; most of them fit within the types above.
These cases illustrate the point that a cyclist can escape from even the
worst-looking situation by being alert. Remember that the primary way to avoid
accidents is by obeying the law, being predictable, and being visible. The cyclist
who follows those rules will have fewer cases of bad behavior to look out for;
nonetheless, never completely relax, and always monitor the behavior of nearby
motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, people in parked cars, and animals.
I can't claim that
a cyclist can avoid 100% of all accidents; I just don't have -- and can
never have -- enough experience to say that. However, I know that in cases
where I should have hit the car or the car should have hit me, it didn't
The Vehicle Pulls into My Path
no. 1): The car suddenly pulls straight out in the road immediately in
front of me, completely blocking my path: this has happened many times
to me; three times I was scared enough that I still remember everything
clearly. In one case, I was going 30 mph downhill and watched the old man
carefully look both ways and then pull out in my path, in the other two,
I was going about 15 mph, and the cars rapidly backed directly into my path;
I wonder in both of the later cases if it wasn't deliberate; the men were
not upset or apologetic and told me that I
ought to be more careful. Not much to report about what happened; I did
not have enough room to stop, but I did anyway. Besides locking the brakes,
I also jerked the bike around sideways. Somehow I stayed in the saddle.
The Vehicle Fails to Stop (from the Side)
no. 2): The car suddenly pulls out into the road in the space where I am.
Again, this has happened repeatedly. In the most dramatic case, I was traveling
down a highway at a good clip, and the driver, approaching from a 90º
side turn, pulled out onto the road without stopping. Without thinking
about what he or I was doing -- there was no time to think -- I matched
his path and was not hit. I found myself riding along side his door, partially
in the wrong lane. I shouted at him, "What the hell do you think you're
doing? You nearly hit me!" and he looked up at me in a daze, and I said,
"Please, get out of my way, you've got me into the wrong lane," and he
pulled off the road, and I went on. I credit my survival here to good reflexes
alone. However, after this occurance, I watched for this behavior, and no one
has gotten that close again.
The Vehicle Cuts Me Off
no. 3): The car starts to pass me and then suddenly turns right. Which
case do you want here? the little old ladies, the 18-wheeler traveling
at 50 mph, or the friend I was talking to just a few minutes before? A
lot of people just don't realize how fast the bike is going; in the case
of the 18-wheeler, I think he wanted to murder me. He blew his horn, but
he did not signal a turn, slow down, or give any other indication that
he was turning. If I hadn't turned just as quickly as he did, I would have
been rubber tire jam. Of course, you have to realize that no car or truck
can turn as fast as a bike, if the cyclist is paying attention.
The Vehicle Fails to Pass Safely
no. 4): The car or truck starts to pass me and suddenly moves into my space.
I think this has sometimes been a deliberate attempt to force me off the
road by an angry motorist. So far, I haven't even been forced off the pavement.
I just hit the brakes hard, and the car slides into an empty spot. Actually,
any time a car passes me, I am prepared to get out of his way; what if
a truck suddenly appears in front of the driver, is he/she going to worry
about me or about the kids in the car?
The Vehicle Fails to Stop (from the Rear)
no. 5): I stop for a red light or a pedestrian, and the car behind me doesn't.
Again, this has happened numerous times. I never put my feet down until
that guy has stopped. Many times I've crossed the intersection or pulled
to one side because that fool wasn't going to stop. For what I do if this
happens after I've already stopped see the next one.
The Vehicle Fails to Stop (From the Front)
no. 6): I am stopped in the turn lane, and a car moves into my space. The
most dramatic incident of this was witnessed by a friend of mine. Four
lanes of traffic were crowded with cars, and I was in the middle lane,
waiting to turn left. Suddenly, from straight ahead, a car shot into my
lane, traveled over the place where I was standing, made a left turn, and
disappeared. I don't think it took more than three seconds total for her
to travel that distance and make her turn, and my calculations say the
same thing. Maybe four seconds. And I had half that time to get out of
her way with no place to go. I was sitting there on my bike with my left
arm signaling a turn and suddenly there she was. I jumped off of the bike,
picked it up, flatten myself up against a car moving at 30-45 mph, and
was not hurt. I even had time to look at her and to wonder if she was on
drugs or homicidal; she looked straight ahead as if she couldn't even see
The Vehicle Fails to Slow on a Blind Curve
no. 7): Some fool or drunk is traveling at high speeds down a road with
limited sight distances. When he reaches me, I'm off of the pavement. For
many years, my only rear "light" was a reflector. Of course, a reflector
is actually brighter than the winking light I now use, but it doesn't work
around a corner or up or down a grade. So, I got into the habit of pulling
off the road whenever a car passed me in poor sight conditions, and I do
it still. For instance, in Pennsylvania last year, I went over the top
of a hill with a curve in a road cut, no shoulders, heavy traffic; how
did I make it safely? I walked. Anytime I get to unsafe road conditions,
I get off the bike and walk. I enjoy walking anyway. Or I wait for the
traffic to move on. Unlike the motorists, I'm not willing to risk my life
to save five minutes.
The Vehicle Backs Up
no. 8): The car or truck passes me and then suddenly stops or stops and
starts backing up. This is a piece of cake compared to the others. I've
even had a postman do it to me.
A Threat from the Side
no. 9): The driver flings open the door, the pedestrian steps into the
street, the dog jumps into the road directly in front of the bike wheel,
etc. As I said, I watch everyone and everything near the roadway.
In one case, two men passed me, pulled into a parking space just ahead
of me, and then the driver waited until I was passing, and flung the door
open in my path -- except I had already moved to the left to avoid getting
hit. This was deliberate; but over a dozen people have done it accidentally;
I expect the door to fly open after the car stops.
no. 10): The driver tries to ram me from the rear. This is clearly attempted
murder. You have to realize that this is dangerous to the motorist as well
as to the cyclist. If the car leaves the road, the driver is likely to
get seriously hurt. In order to hit the bike, the car must slow to the
speed of the bike, which is not fast enough speed to do much harm unless
the cyclist falls under the vehicle. If the car doesn't slow down, this
ends up being a #4. Unfortunately, on a downhill, the car and bike are
at the same speed. This condition is much more dangerous; look at the statistics
for motorcycle accidents. It has a simple solution; I just hit the handbrakes,
and the car flashes past. However, in one case, I was on a narrow mountain
road with no shoulder, the road was full of holes, and the car took up
all of the space behind me. In this case, I had to depend on speed, and
I was helped and hurt by the roughness of the road. However, if I had fallen,
I would have been dead, and the four occupants would have made up some
kind of story. However, at one point I saw a tree with a spot beyond it,
and I dived into that space and stopped, and it was over.
no. 11): I am traveling down the highway, and a car is approaching me.
Suddenly, a car passes him and rushes towards me at 70 to 90 mph. In one case,
the college-student motorist stayed on my side
long after he could have moved back over. If you want to murder me, this is the way
to do it. I stop, and I wait on the road, shaking all over, and mad enough
to kill. If he kills me, he knows it's murder, and he knows the occupants
of the other car are watching. Somehow, he misses me by less than a foot.
I wonder if I would, at the last second, jump out of the way. At any rate,
just getting off the road would remove the danger.
Other People Get Hurt
Now for the accident
that really scares me:
no. 12): A car passing me strikes an oncoming car, injuring other people.
In 1967 and 1968, after my 1966 trip to Northern Ontario and several smaller
trips, and after writing an article for the Anniston Star
on bicycle safety, I was present during two automobile accidents that wouldn't
have happened if I hadn't been there. I wasn't at fault in either case,
and fortunately, no one was hurt. In both cases a woman with weak driving
skills was following an aggressive driver, was afraid of hitting me, and
lost control of the car. Even though I had not caused either accident,
I nearly quit cycling as a result. I am willing to die for what I believe;
I am not willing to see others hurt. As a result, I refuse to travel on
roads where people drive aggressively. When driving with more cooperative
traffic, I help them pass me. I am always slowing down and speeding up,
so a car can pass me at a safe spot, I signal on curves and small hills,
and I pull over when a truck can't pass.
Safety While off of the Road
Now after 100,000
miles of cycling and many opportunities to have been hurt or killed, I
feel reasonably safe. Maybe someone will think of something new; I don't
know. In addition, I have safety measures while off of the bike as well. I stop to rest
well away from the road. When I walk up a hill along the roadway, I remain alert, stay off the
pavement, and keep on the safer side. When I take a long rest or camp for
the night, I get out of sight of the road to avoid possible harassment.
"safety first" has been around so long that no one thinks about what it
means any more: safety comes before any other consideration. Whenever you
ride a bike and motor vehicles are around, keep your eyes on them and be
prepared to act.