Monday, July 29, 2013
Bear Spray, Truck Side Guards, and Safety
John Allen critiques two cycling blogs (here and here) that extoll the virtue of truck side guards in keeping bicyclists from being swept under trucks, such as during a right hook. I don't know about you, but those side guards don't look like they are foolproof, and could just as easily capture a cyclist and grind him/her into the pavement.
Not falling under a truck means not getting in the situation where you will even have the chance to fall under the truck. Some of the most famous cases of cyclists being mauled by trucks and buses involve door zone and coffin corner bike lanes that put naive cyclists into serious danger of diversion falls and right hook collisions, respectively. Not that cyclists should be so naive that they would squeeze into a door zone or try to pass a large truck on the driver's right (i.e., in the truck driver's blind spot) going into an intersection, but some designs encourage such behavior and some cyclists seem oblivious to the hazard. A better practice heading into intersections is either to fall in behind the truck or slow down and ensure the truck proceeds through the intersection ahead of you without turning, because its probably not wise to assume the driver remembers to use turn signals.
As I quipped on Mr. Allen's site, one does not backpack into bear country and put the food and leftovers into the tent, relying only on bear spray (or even a trusty 44 Magnum) to keep the bear out. One uses well known common sense measures to manage one's coexistence with the bear so that the crisis does not materialize in the first place. Large trucks, like bears, can be hazardous to one's health if not treated with respect and can coexist with you relatively safely if the proper measures are in place, as discussed by Keri at the Bike Orlando blog. Neither bear spray nor truck side guards (nor any other form of PPE) are anything but last resort measures when one's carefully managed safety envelope breaks down. That should be self-evident, even to cycling bloggers.