The Chainlink

Like all of you, my heart hurts every time I read news about the latest crash ending in injury or death of a cyclist. It seems so avoidable, so preventable and is happening far too often lately.

I'm going to try something different. We're going to put aside any worry about "victim blaming" and get right down to the root causes cyclists are at risk. Once we have that list, let's start attaching activities to each risk that could help alleviate or fix the risk. Here's a list to get it started:

1. DUI

2. Dooring

3. Not obeying light/sign (cyclists)

4. No lights at night

5. Right hook

6. Left hook

7. Infrastructure (lack of bike lanes)

8. Driver distracted e.g. smart phone, mobile phone

9. Not obeying light/sign (motorist)

10. Obstructed bike lane (motorist) 

11. Reckless driving, speeding (motorist)

12. Violation of the 3 foot rule i.e. space between motorist and cyclist

13. Infrastructure not providing enough space for the 3 foot rule

14. Motorists not understanding size and vulnerability of cyclists

15. Knowledge of laws (motorists, cyclists)

16. Going around railroad crossing gates at grade crossings while gates are down, lights are flashing and bells are ringing (cyclists)

17. Impatience (motorists, cyclists)

18. Quick response to "blame" or use language that "blames" the cyclist as well as the flip side - language letting the driver off the hook e.g. accident, didn't see the cyclist, etc. (media, some police, public)

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I find that slowing down (or even go so far as, gasp, stopping) is the best safety measure in my toolkit.

What do we want?

Patience.

When do we want it?

Now!

I am with Lisa on this. A subset of impatience is entitlement. "I am in a hurry and you don't matter." This does apply to both cyclists and motorists.  Driving and riding are things we do by ourselves but they are not solitary pursuits. The streets are a shared environment where we must account for each other so we all get home in one piece.  There are times when we are  all in a hurry regardless of the mode we are using at the time. When we are in a hurry we  must be even more vigilant for others. 

I agree with both you and Lisa on this. We are riding in SHARED space. It's very important to be aware of that as we ride.

Ok, I updated the list. Are we ready to start breaking down the items to brainstorm solutions?

If you have a solution to a problem, give the problem/challenge # and your recommended solution e.g. communication, education, law, infrastructure improvements. I believe many of these will have a number of necessary solutions to help solve it - unfortunately, there's usually not one magical solution to solve any of these. :-(

100% agree!

+1  Re-tests on the rules should be required periodically - perhaps every 2nd renewal. These should absolutely include newer laws which drivers need to know.

I see number 8 as the number one or two reason.

The ride shares are terrible because they're looking for a person who may or may not know where they are or the driver doesn't understand directions the person gave them so they're looking out the window, staring at the phone reading a text, answering a call from the person telling them they think they just saw them etc. 

Unfortunately no amount of laws  make someone be a better driver, use signals, check their mirrors before pulling out or pulling over.

I think wearing a goPro for a day or 2 would show the actual conditions we face, right hooking, honking, pedestrians walking in the bike lane, against the light.

You can post, tweet, contact Alderman until The Cubs win but a (picture) Video is worth more than a thousand words.

Over 1/2 of all emergency room visits by bicyclists are due to single rider falls.  Many could be eliminated by teaching cyclists basic bike handling skills and emergency maneuvers. 

Dooring-

cyclists- keep an eye on the driver's side mirror of parked vehicles to see if you see an eyeball. If so, there is a risk of a door opening.  Keep an eye open for lights or parking lights in a vehicle. If  the mirror is folded it is more likely to be safe to whiz past as the driver is not sitting in the car. Ride in a straight line giving yourself room from the door even if  you make drivers in traffic claustrophobic. Be acutely aware of any movement from the parked vehicles or people walking to the cars.  While doing all of this you need to be aware of what is on your left in  traffic in case you have to bail.  Is it safe to veer into the lane or are you going  to get crushed by a bus? You may have to make Sophie's choice and sacrifice a few bones to the door rather than your existence to the cars in traffic.  Be ready to  use your horn and/or voice to alert a potential doorer. Be lit so you can be seen!

Drivers- try the right hand to open the door trick which forces you to look back.  Always check the mirror before opening. Look, look, look. Warn your passengers about looking. They really cannot see on the driver's side as  they have no mirror. Urge your passengers to exit on the passenger side to avoid both bikes and cars! If the lane is  on the passenger side you need to warn passengers to use the passenger mirror and the passenger in the front has to be the eyes for whoever is behind him or her. This is all especially difficult if  kids or codgers are passengers. They often will not listen as well as the rest of the world. 

All this being  said, you can still be in the wrong place at the wrong time  and it can happen despite the best preparation and intention. This happened to me.

19. Ignorance - Drivers simply not cognitive of bikes. Prevention? Education and exposure. Teaching how to drive with bikes in Drivers Ed, questions on driver's license tests to begin with.

Comprehensive traffic education starting at a YOUNG age (like 6) - learn how to be safe as a ped, then a cyclist, then a driver.

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