Bikes vs. cars is a debate that riles tempers, no matter which side you’re on. But cyclists aren’t going to “win” the debate unless they live to ride another day. Follow Scott Fliegelman’s nine guidelines for safer riding and racing this season:
1. Stay to the right side of the white line whenever possible. Use caution and patience when overtaking other riders and offer a polite “On your left.”
2. Do not use your iPod. Even with the volume turned way down or with only the right earbud in, you still can’t hear approaching vehicles as well as you need to to maximize your safety.
3. Signal all stops, turns and obstacles with your hands and use your voice when riding with others. Not only will this help you communicate with highly distracted drivers, it will also help keep your group riding cohesively.
4. Avoid using aerobars when riding in a group. Triathletes have earned a reputation for “sketchy” group riding, and this is the biggest reason why. Save your aero time for solo sessions.
5. At intersections, make eye contact and use hand signals with drivers. Do all you can to ensure that your intentions have been properly communicated and that you understand the driver’s intent before proceeding into any intersection, regardless of right of way.
6. Come to a full stop at every stop sign and red light and put a foot down. Instead of getting annoyed with the “hassle” of clipping in and out of your pedals, see how smoothly and quickly you can reengage your cleat. And save yourself the expense of a traffic ticket—it is the law.
7. Only ride “two-up” when it’s safe and unlikely to cause an interruption to traffic behind you. Although the law allows for you to ride side-by-side in many situations, it isn’t always the safest or wisest thing to do. Ride smart.
8. Left turns require extra special attention. Whether you make a left turn across oncoming traffic or a head-on vehicle makes a left turn in front of you, you should be hyper vigilant. Assume the driver has no idea that you are there and cede the right of way regardless of who was there first.
9. Apply basic rules of the road to racing! Race officials have your best interests in mind on race day, but you should still use sound judgment at all times, even if it means hesitating a few seconds to pass through a high-traffic area or dangerous curve.
Fliegelman is the owner and head coach of FastForward Sports (Fastforwardsports.net) in Boulder, Colo.