Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is cycling safe?

Mr AM with rear tail flag - salvaged from rubbish dump, remants of a kite... but it works
I get this question asked all the time and the next comment follows "ooooohhh it is sooooo dangerous on the road".
Well, frankly in Singapore, I find it is. Or correctly put, there are certainly risks. But as in life, there are risks every where.  Here are some rules I live by, so that I reduce the chances...
1) Be seen. Wear bright clothes, wear safety vest even if it looks dorky. I even have a handmade flag pole which makes the drivers easier to see me. It saved me a few time.. esp with the heavy haul vehicle(very tall and they cant see us)
yah.. I know.. overkill but I know for sure the driver will see me. Those who dun, are blind or drunk
2) Lighting - Bike will have lights - Front and rear. Dun scrimp on this as the rider profile is very low. Do this experiement. Go with a friend at night go to somewhere darker(dun have wrong idea), ask him to walk about 70 m from the rear and see if he can see u. Then switch on the lights. You will instantly understand what I am talking about. I even have a very bright helmet light which I can "stare" down cars, esp on the turns. Some call me crazy, which I agree. But i rather be crazy but alive.
3) Attitude. Understand that even when you can be right but still be hurt on the road. Ride defensively. Assume the drivers are blur, will do stupid things and react according. If unsure. Stop. get off the road. Wait for the idiot to move out off ur radar screen. drink water and cool down. If still feeling threaten or worried about the road condition. I will ride on the pavement. Yes, u heard that right. I will ride on the pavement. And I ride with a smile. Slowly and saying hello, exuse me if I pass the cyclists or pedestrians. This is very important to me as we are ambassadors for cycling,  and we show we are friendly, not atas, normal pple just riding along.
3.1) Confidence
This is part of attitude. Learn in a quiet spot with no cars to handle ur bicycle properly. Right turns, left turns. Braking, learn to know how stop quickly and how the bike reacts on different conditions. Wet, wet with sand etc.  Ride on the road in a stable manner. If u are turning.. visualize TP(Traffic police) and hand signal slowly to show ur intention. And please look back, before u turn. 
4) Helmet. This is one touchy hot potato. For me, I have personally witness helmet have prevented head injuries. But I find that this should be a personal right. If u want to, wear it. And if u wear it, please make sure the fit is correct and the strap is properly tighten.  The issue I have with helmet advocates is that there is this "silver bullet" message it conveys. Wear the helmet and you are safe. That is all rubbish and over rated. What is important is that when u are helmet less- u need to understand u are more vulnerable and you adjust ur mindset. 
The most classic person I can think is Francis. And he will tell u more about the biggest issue. - Mindset of drivers and cyclist.... that deserves another blog entry... later. :) 
And for those with children, I really admire the parents for bring them out. And here is an article on more on making riding safe for family. And I think it kinda of applies to other cyclists too,

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