Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Look before you leap...

I had the car today because I had a lunchtime errand and agreed to do the Smith's grocery shopping, therefore justifying taking Old Belchfire to work. On the way home, I was driving up to the Conoco Hill intersection. A cyclist in the bike lane was slow and wobbly on the ascent. I wondered, given he was riding right on the line between the bike lane and right travel lane, if he was going to change lanes. So I slowed.

Without looking, he veered directly in front of my car. I'm glad it was me he veered in front of since I was sorta expecting it. Thankfully, he did not veer in front of a dualie that was accelerating.

I mentioned "look before you leap" as I passed on his right since at that point he was in the center lane preparing for a left turn. I think cyclists need to learn the "over the shoulder scan" technique we teach in Traffic Skills 101. It both allows the cyclist to see what is approaching behind him and telegraphs to following motorists that the cyclist is changing lanes. Here is a Mass Bike video showing how its done.

Positioning for turns
  • Before a turn: turn and look back at traffic (turn your head) and scan, signal, negotiate, and when you verify it is safe,  move into the lane that leads to your destination. (Practice this maneuver in a safe place such as a parking lot or soccer field because if not done correctly, you might veer when you turn your head and upper body, inadvertently pulling on the handlebars.)
  • If you feel like you are wobbling or veering too much while turning and looking, try doing the head turn while out of the saddle and accelerating, which may tend to stabilize your steering by freeing up your upper body a little. I suggested this to a cyclist who was uncomfortable with the seated version of the maneuver, and he said it actually worked.
  • Ride in the right third or middle of the lane, as lane width dictates
  • To traverse multiple lanes in busy and faster traffic, move one lane at a time, scanning and signaling each move

Traffic Skills is better than Traffic Kills...

1 comment:

Steve A said...

And it's so simple to do!