- Last Updated: Monday, 08 August 2016 01:10
- Published: Tuesday, 18 November 2014 10:09
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Image from here.
Some people take pride in considering themselves as an “unpredictable” person. They equate this quality with being spontaneous, fun, and gregarious. But while this may be a desirable trait in our social intercourse as they give way to meaningful relationships, it is a very negative and certainly undesirable trait in bicycling. A bicyclist must be predictable on the road. Being predictable is necessary if you want to survive on board your two-wheeler on the streets. Consider this as gospel truth: the more predictable you ride your bicycle, the safer you will be on the streets. The question however, is how you become predictable while bicycling.
|Consider this as gospel truth: the more predictable you ride your bicycle, the safer you will be on the streets.|
Here we list some important things to consider and do in order to be predictable as you ride your bike on Metro Manila’s streets:
1. Obey the laws of vehicular traffic especially on intersections where there are traffic lights.
This means stopping on red light and positioning yourself in the right place in relation to other vehicles on the lane, whether you are going straight or turning left or right. Make sure they see you because what drivers don’t see, drivers may hit. If it is possible to weave your way to the front then you can do so but always being careful you don’t scrape or bump the vehicles on either side of you. While this may cause them to notice and see you dent their car big time, you may be liable to pay damages to their precious ride. But there are times when you could use some opportunities to your advantage, such as what this story illustrates.
The Lesson here: simple - know when to obey the laws of the road. Repeat - know when to obey the laws of the road.
2. Some bicyclists love to weave in and out of traffic and it’s easy to see why.
You go faster and there is that exhilarating feeling that pushes you to pedal faster. However, this the height of being utterly unpredictable. Motorists see these kind of bicyclists as road monsters and this is never good for either them or bicyclists. Weaving in and out of traffic disrupts the smooth flow of vehicular traffic and can definitely cause accidents. Mon Fernan has some good skills to impart in his article Safety on the Road Part 3.
The Lesson here: keep it straight as much as possible, letting drivers know that you know how to keep yourself in line and within your lane even if there are no visible lane markings on the road.
3. Talking about going faster:
It may be necessary at certain circumstances to go fast and safe at the same time; it depends on existing road conditions and traffic volume, and of course your lung capacity and leg power. Nevertheless, watching your speed is essential in order to be ready for any eventuality. A bicycle going 10 kph is easier to turn immediately and safely than one travelling at more than 20 kph. At any speed, you need to be able to look ahead and have time to react calmly and dodge obstacles. An incorrect abrupt maneuver can cause you to lose control of the bike.
The Lesson here: maintain a manageable speed that you are comfortable with and still have the ability to maneuver correctly.
4. Leaving your premises and entering a roadway can be tricky especially if you are coming from a blind spot.
If you can’t see the roadway clearly, listen for incoming cars first and slowly approach the roadway. If there are no oncoming vehicles, then you can proceed. If there is one, it doesn't matter if it is a puny motorcycle or a gargantuan truck, it is always a good idea to give way rather than force your way ahead. Courtesy calls for it and so does self-preservation. You couldn't win and if you are hit or from their point of view, you hit them, all the other vehicle could get would be a tiney dent while you could end up injured and wake up in a hospital. Or worse.
The lesson here: stop, look and listen.
5. We have our hands full while bicycling but they are not only for controlling our direction through the handlebars.
We also need them to make hand signals to signify our intent to turn and let other road users know where we are going well in advance before we do the actual turn. You should never change lanes abruptly and without appropriate signaling. The proper way is to look behind you, then forward, then do the hand signal and then look behind quickly again before actually changing lanes. If you see a vehicle behind you, do like what more experienced and smart bicyclists will do: slow down and wait until the cars behind them have passed.
The lesson here: learn how to use your hands and keep them from wandering to where they shouldn't be.
6. Parked cars, especially those that are parked in the direction you are going are potential homicide weapons.
Because passengers on those cars may suddenly open their doors without looking behind first, you may become an unwitting victim of the “door zone.” You need to scan those parked cars to see if there are passengers and also look where the front wheels are oriented since they can tell you where they will go in the event that the car will suddenly drive forward. This will give you time to take evasive action. Positioning yourself about four feet away from them will also help you avoid being “doored.”
The lesson here: be aware of parked cars and remember - four feet distance from doors.
7. A bell is a bicyclist’s great ally in alerting other road users as to his/her presence.
There is no law so far limiting how loud it can be but it shouldn’t be so loud as to cause undue attention or sudden unwanted reaction from other road users that can cause them to lose control of themselves or the vehicle they are operating. If you can, get one of those kinds used by our local hot pandesal vendors in the morning as they go around the village honking their way around. They are loud and can get the attention of others quickly, if not with great amusement.
The lesson here: be a friend, ring your bell.
Being predictable on the road means being safe whether you are biking to work or enjoying a leisure ride. And as they say, better be safe than sorry. If you have other ways to make yourself a predictable bicyclist on the road, please share them with us on the comments below.
You may be wondering what other bicyclists think about bicycling myths. Here is our collection of myths that you might want to forget: 10 Cycling Myths You Need to Forget Now. And if you have picked up some not so good bicycling habits, it might be time to stop doing them. Please read our 5 Things You Need to Stop Doing While Biking for inspiration.