When you are going out for your first run or your first few rides on your bike, there’s the big question that always looms in the back of every beginner’s mind.
How do I do this and not get hit by a car!!!
If you are like me, I know you’ve been driving down a busy road and seen a runner coming towards you or you’ve had to slow down to wait for the right moment to go around the cyclist ahead of you. I’m sure you must have thought about how dangerous it seems right?
Before I get into each sport, let me say this one overall rule of thumb. Whether I’m on a bike or out running, I always look for the least traveled roads or the widest roads with whatever bike lanes I can find.
While living in Nashville, I stuck to places runners and cyclist typically go. Chances are motorists are used to them. My favorite place to ride was the Natchez Trace. There are usually more cyclists there than cars.
My favorite running in Franklin is the neighborhood trails around downtown and Pinkerton Park. My other favorite running route in Nashville is Beale Meade Blvd or Moran road to the Old Natchez Trace rd. The key… not as many cars.
However, if you stick to these few simple tips, you will put yourself on the offensive side of safety and keep you out of harms way.
1. Wear bright reflective clothing. If you are in the right light where someone can see you because of your clothing, good. You want them to see you. If the sun is going down, their car headlights will grab your reflective clothing and you will shine enough for them to see you and know to go around you.
2. Always run against the traffic. I can’t stress this enough. You want to see the traffic ahead of you. Since you are smaller than a car, you will have a better chance of getting out of the way of the car should the driver not see you and come too close or come right at you. This puts you on the offensive side and not on the vulnerable side.
3. When running with a group or a running partner, run single file when oncoming traffic approaches. Again, this gives you more control of what’s going on and allows you the chance to move out of the way when needed.
4. When running past someone. Yell which side you are passing them on so they aren’t caught of guard by you. This usually happens on the left side of the person you are passing. Just yell, “LEFT!”
5. Obey all traffic signals when you get to a corner just as if you were walking across the street. Use crosswalks and if you have to stop for a minute, it’s not going to kill your run.
6. Buy a Road ID. If anything should happen to you while you are running, whoever finds you will have quick access to your emergency contact and medical info for the EMT.
7. This is where things change a bit.
8. Cyclists have the same right to be on the road as cars do. READ THIS AGAIN. Cyclists also have to obey the same traffic laws as motorists do.
9. Ride WITH the traffic. Not against the traffic.
10. Wear reflective clothing when needed.
11. Use hand signals when turning.
12. ALWAYS look over your left shoulder before moving into the left lane to turn.
13. ALWAYS ride on the right side of the lane as close to the white line as you can get unless you have a bike lane to use.
14. Never make sudden movements when cars are about to pass you.
15. Never listen to music when riding your bike. Here’s why. You are riding with the traffic and you need to be able to hear when a car or semi truck is approaching. If you are listening to music then chances are you can’t really hear everything going on around you. Then during that great part in the song where your mind is off in music world, a car will sneak up on you and scare the-you-know-what out of you. At that moment, you might jerk your wheel the wrong way and either go into the car to your left or the ditch to your right. Either way it’s not going to be pretty and it could have been avoid if you were listening for them.
Don’t think it doesn’t happen. I used to ride with music. Then I tried riding with just my right ear bud in so I could hear cars on my left. Still… not as good, but better. Eventually, I got rid of the music. Trust me. It’s for your own safety.
When riding with a group, learn these terms..
16. Car back – it’s when you hear a car coming up from behind you. Yell “CAR BACK!!” and those in front of you will repeat it so that everyone in the group knows there is a car about to pass.
17. Car Forward – same as car back but this is for cars coming towards you. This allows those in the group that might not be looking up at the moment to know there’s a car coming in the other lane. Again, you yell it out for all to hear.
18. When riding with a group, learn to point to obstructions in the road for those who are riding behind you. Potholes, gravel, and sticks. Remember, your road tires are more delicate than mountain bike tires. I’ve had flats from hit a tiny rock before so avoid anything in the road that you might think will pop a tire or send you flying off your bike.
19. Ride single file in traffic.
20. When passing other riders, try to pass on their left. When you are about to pass them yell, “LEFT!!” and pass with caution.
21. Buy a Road ID. If anything should happen to you while you are running, whoever finds you will have quick access to your emergency contact and medical info for EMT.
To all of you who get frustrated with cyclists as you are driving your car.
I hear this often from other drivers…
Cyclists think they own the road…
I just want to put a few things in perspective for those of you… us… who are driving vehicles while passing a cyclist.
- Cyclists have to obey the same road laws you do and have just as much of a right to be on the road as you.
- Your vehicle weighs over 4,000lbs and you are protected by the shell of the vehicle tied in with a seatbelt and have air bags. Cyclists are riding on a bike that weighs less that 20lbs and are wearing a helmet. That’s it.
- Pro cyclists race between 25mph – 30plus mph. The average cyclist rides at 15mph – 20mph. that’s it. We can’t go any faster so please stop acting as if we can.
- Most states have a 3-foot law. The motorist has to give a cyclist at least 3 feet of space.
- Most cycling injuries that involve a motorist are caused by the motorist. Some ending in death and an involuntary manslaughter charge. So think before you decide to scare that cyclist the next time you get frustrated. You could cause death for them and jail time for you with little effort.
The bottom line here is this. Cyclists CAN’T own the road. Cyclist only take up two feet of the road at one anytime. When you are driving a car, you are driving what could be a very dangerous driving machine. Drive too close to a cyclist and that cyclist could fly off the road. Hopefully with little injury but acts like this have ended in people being permanently paralyzed, nursing a few broken bones or dead.
Yes, we cyclists take the responsibility of putting our lives in danger by just riding a bike. But we need motorists to help us out a bit. Be more patient when trying to pass us and we will do our best to help you get around us safely. Please, we don’t need you scarring us just because you can bully us with your car.
And that’s what it really is when you are the bigger presence with the damaging force of a car… Bullying.
So there you go.
These few tips will get you on your way to some safe training.
Any Questions? Any tips you would like to share?