Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Watch out for cyclists, tips to stay bicycle safe


May 28, 2013

The weather has been beautiful and with it comes pedestrians, runners and cyclists.

Just a few weeks ago a cyclist was hit by a truck pulling a boat on East Lake Stevens Rd. after the boat trailer knocked the cyclist to the ground. The man was sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries but it is a great reminder to watch out for cyclists and for cyclists to stay clear of vehicles.

Just a friendly reminder that in Washington State it is illegal for a cyclist to ride on the right side of the white line (the shoulder).

Washington State has implemented the following laws to ensure a riders safety:

• Always wear a bicycle helmet.

• Riding on the road means following laws as if you were a vehicle driver.

• Highways are closed to bicyclists.

• No more than two cyclists can ride side by side at a time.

• A white front light (not a reflector) is required when riding at night.

Here are some ways to stay safe by

Avoid busy streets: One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they start biking is to take the exact same routes they used when they were driving. It’s usually better to take different streets with fewer and slower cars. Sure, cyclists have a right to the road, but that’s a small consolation when you’re dead.

Take the whole lane when appropriate.

It’s often safer to take the whole lane, or at least ride a little bit to the left, rather than hug the right curb. Taking the lane works especially well in most traffic circles. The traffic generally moves slower so it’s easy to keep up, riding in the lane makes you more visible to motorists, and taking the lane prevents motorists from right hooking you as they exit the circle.

Signal your turns.

You’re less likely to get hit when your movement doesn’t take motorists by surprise. Let them know you’re about to turn or move left or right by signalling with your arm. Point your left arm out to move left, and point your right arm out to move right. (You might have learned an old way of signaling a right turn with your left arm, but drivers have no idea what that means, so it’s useless. Signal a right turn with your right arm.) Before signaling left, be sure to check your mirror or look behind you before signaling (since a car passing too closely can take your arm out).

Re-think music players and mobile phones.

It’s more important to hear what’s around you when you’re biking than when you’re driving. Whether you want to ride with headphones is your choice, but doing so does increase your risk. Similarly, texting or talking with a mobile phone raises the risk level. When you’re mixing with car traffic, the fewer distractions the better. Also, you’ll want both hands free in case you have to brake suddenly.

Ride as if you were invisible.

It’s often helpful to ride in such a way that motorists won’t hit you even if they don’t see you. You’re not trying to be invisible, you’re trying to make it irrelevant whether cars see you or not. If you ride in such a way that a car has to see you to take action to avoid hitting you (e.g ., by their slowing down or changing lanes), then that means they will definitely hit you if they don’t see you. But if you stay out of their way, then you won’t get hit even if they didn’t notice you were there.

On very fast roads cars have less time to see you because they’re approaching so fast. Of course, you should avoid fast roads in the first place if at all possible, unless there’s plenty of room for a car and a bike side by side. And if there IS such room, then on fast roadways you can practice invisibility by riding to the extreme right. If you’re far enough right that you’re not in the part of the lane the cars are in, then they’ll zoom by and won’t hit you, even if they never saw you.


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