Whether you are a cyclist or a driver, we all have a role to play in terms of sharing the road responsibly. Cyclists, just like pedestrians, are more vulnerable to significant injuries or deaths in crashes with cars. While it is a fact that most crashes are attributed to distracted drivers and failure to yield, there are still things that both cyclists and drivers can do to help keep everyone on the road safer.
For cyclists, here are the five layers of cycling safety that you should keep in mind at all times:
LAYER 1: CONTROL YOUR BIKE.
It is important to not fall or collide with others. Starting, stopping as well as turning properly gives you the most control and will prevent you from falling on your bike or running into others. If you skillfully control your bike, then you will cut out about half of the injury risk. If you are going to ride in groups, remember that you must have good bike handling skills and follow group riding rules.
LAYER 2: FOLLOW RULES.
It is also important to not cause traffic crashes. Make it a point to follow traffic laws, obey signals and road signs, use headlights and taillights at night, and use the correct lanes for turns. If you do these things, then you will not cause a collision with a motorist. Did you know that about half of motorist/cyclist crashes are caused by cyclists who failed to follow the basic rules of the road? We trust that you will not do that.
LAYER 3: BE ON THE RIGHT LANE.
Do not discourage other drivers’ mistakes. It is important to know when to use the full lane or when to share a lane. Your position in a lane lets drivers know what you are doing and it also discourages them from making unsafe actions toward you. Many effective lane positioning principles have been long forgotten by the modern cycling community, and they may be contrary to what you have been taught.
LAYER 4: AVOID HAZARDS.
It is best to avoid other drivers’ mistakes. There are several evasive maneuvers that you should know to help you avoid major mistakes by motorists or dodge unexpected obstacles on the road. Knowing how to turn and stop quickly helps you avoid motorists’ mistakes that are not discouraged by lane positioning. These skills must be taught as they are not instinctive.
LAYER 5: PASSIVE SAFETY
When all else fails, protection is a must. This layer is also the least effective one, but still important nonetheless. Gloves and helmets are used to protect your most vulnerable body parts and this is the last resort in case Layers 1 through 4 fails.