Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Colder Days, Longer Nights

Its never been easier to stay warm or to be seen on a bicycle. Bicycle shops of all sizes have a selection of Winter clothing and lighting to allow you to see and be seen. Never before has there been so many cars on the road. It seems to me that over the past ten years, the amount of drivers has doubled. What I call "Freight Train Traffic", one car after another for long stretches of road.With the use of Cell Phones and now Internet and Texting, its a wonder a Bicycle Commuter can stay alive. Here are some tips as how I deal with the traffic and the 15 mile commute I have to and from work. First, Assume that you are invisible. Drivers are not looking for bicycles. Its true. If you think you can be seen, it may not be so and could result in being hit. Think about what you would do if hit and rehearse it in your head. Being prepared could save your life. Bright lights even during the day when its a little cloudy or dark attract attention. Having a driver notice you from a far could allow you safe travels. At night place your light so the spot is on the pavement to your left. Drivers while passing will swing wide to miss the spot of light and "open" the view of you to drivers in back of them. This works great and still allows you to see the road in front of you. Bright lights and bright clothing are noticeable more than what we call "Safety Black!" Don't "cheep" yourself when it comes to lighting. Better lights last longer with the electric charge and are usually brighter. Rechargeable lights may be more expensive at the counter, but the money you will save in batters and heaven forbid, out of work from being hit, will pay for themselves in short order. Good lights if you forget to charge them one night, will have enough power to last another evenings ride. Reflectors are good and important, but everybody has seen an occasional driver without their headlights on. Reflectors do nothing unless lit by drivers headlights. Although super bright lights can be seen, make sure that the beam is not in the face of on coming drivers. Simple enough, but it is another thing to think of. When being high beamed by drivers, simply flash them with your light as if you were in a car, Most drivers unless looking for an argument, will lower their beam. At traffic lights, if you can lower your tail light and headlight beam, A blinded driver starting off when the light changes could be dangerous. I like to look in my rear view mirror and place the bike in a safe spot when cars pass. This could mean ether speeding up or slowing down. Starting at lights, it is sometimes safer to let the group of cars pass you while stopped rather then heading out as a group and getting mixed up at the "bottle neck" on the other side of the intersection. Drivers seeing that you are not tiring to race them sometimes offer a little respect next time around. Remember that most of the drivers are commuting too, and will most likely passing at a later date. If they see and remember, they may cooperate next time around. Showing a little respect and obeying the rules of the road may have you enjoying your commute stress free and safer for years to come.

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