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More Attention to Safety than Usual

by on July 18, 2013

Yesterday in our town, a cyclist ran a stop sign, collided with a dump truck, and was killed.  He was not a member of the Severna Park Peloton, but that kind of tragedy ripples through all who hear it.  No doubt, since it looks like he was at fault, drivers of vehicles will be emboldened to consider their animosity toward cyclists to be justified.  “Look what this law-breaking cyclist did to the dump truck driver who will now have to live with the consequences of this accident for the rest of his life.” It is a tragedy all around.

I know that I was more attentive this morning.  When I rode, I knew about the fatality but did not know that the cyclist was determined to be at fault.  I’ll confess that 8 stop signs this morning were treated as yield signs by me and the other riders.  I will note that at none of those stop signs was there any traffic.  The one stop sign where there was traffic, we stopped.  Legitimate excuse?  No.  Common for us?  Yes.

Safety was still on our minds.  We are most often riding within less than 1 foot from one another at speeds up to about 30 mph.  We must maintain constant vigilance as to where other riders are and what they are doing.  We know one another’s riding style and count on that predictability.  One rider’s behavior we cannot predict and we give him much wider berth.  In fact, there was a near collision with him this morning as he sat up to drink some water and slowed and swerved unexpectedly.  Anticipating potential problems allowed us to avoid a collision this morning where 8 bikes, a garbage truck, an oncoming car and a car following the garbage truck all were attempting to occupy the same stretch of road at the same time.  One of the garbage men yelled at a car driver for creating a hazard.  The cyclists were cautious and courteous.

At the end of the ride this morning as I was within sight of the fatal accident scene, I reflected about how our group riding makes us a much more visible presence on the road.  A single bike is about 1/8 the visual size of a car and something as innocent as a mirror can completely obscure a cyclist from a driver.  Eight bikes moving at speed has the visual impact of a truck.  I like that kind of added safety.  Sometimes we will take the full lane just so that we can be seen and not simply dismissed as an unimportant presence on the side of the road.  I also thought about how this is not a mindless sport.  Some early morning exercise … say at a gym on a treadmill … can be mind numbing and a chance to disengage the brain.  Not road cycling, if you want to stay mounted on the bike.

The ride itself this morning was enjoyable.  There was a nice sunrise.  By the end of the ride the sweat was pouring off our bodies and legs were feeling the effort.  Today is forecast to have a heat index of between 105 and 110° F so the 78° temps were the best we could get on the day.

This Ride: 22.5 miles
Malaria Campaign: 921.2 miles
Funds Pledged: $460.60
Contributed in support: $1,487.60

Total = $1,948.20

 

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From → Cycling

One Comment
  1. Great post. The idea that your brain must remain engaged resonated with me. It was a momentary lack of judgment on my part which resulted in my accident 16 months ago. I consider myself to be a very safe rider – safer than what you described your group doing this morning – yet a poor decision at a yellow light led to a collision. I suspect if I had been traveling in a group, the car that hit me would have seen me despite my traffic violation.

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