Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Training + situational awareness 1, sloppy motorist 0

This morning at about 0750, someone did their best to try to flatten me during my bicycle ride to work. Two things intervened: training and situational awareness. I saw the motorist slowing in the left lane and then saw the motorist had put on a right turn signal, so I was mentally keying on that behavior. When the teen suddenly and abruptly turned right into Metzgers/Morning Glory on Diamond Drive from the inside (leftmost) traffic lane, I was able to execute an “instant turn”, as taught in bike safety class, and turn the bicycle inside the path of the sharply turning motor vehicle, thus avoiding a right hook collision.

As anyone who has heard me rant and rave knows, I am not a fan of excessive and irrelevant training; it becomes part of the background noise. Practicing your bike handling skills and your situational awareness is neither rote, excessive, or irrelevant. I am a fan of asking everyone to engage in situational awareness, whether in the laboratory or anywhere else, and also to be mentally and physically prepared to do the things you may need to do in “abnormal situations”.  Be aware of things that are not quite right, as they are telling you something and it may be important.   Be prepared mentally and physically do the things you will need to do to recover.  Be thinking several seconds ahead of the immediate situation so you have time to react.

Its obviously difficult to do practice runs on all potential accident scenerios, but there are places, such as the High School parking lot on quiet weekends, where one can practice bike/motorcycle/car maneuvers. Try them in a safe place--preferrably after someone like me (an LCI) has shown you how to do them. Murrae Haynes, a Motorcycle Safety Foundation/Rider’s Edge Instructor has discussed setting up a class up here for motorcycle riders; we are thinking of that location.

I had a motorist/bicyclist, Mike Warren, stop and say “nice job” as I was engaging the teen in an involuntary teaching moment.  Last spring another cyclist was cut off in a “right hook” situation at that exact location. He ended up with serious injuries including broken bones and a shoulder separation.  That would not be a nice way to celebrate the Spring Equinox.

As Sgt Esterhaus would say, "let's be careful out there". 

1 comment:

Steve A said...

Many of the maneuvers can also be practiced safely on streets when no other traffic is around.