When someone finds out I’m a cyclist and that I ride 200+ miles per week the first question I get is:
“You ride on regular roads?”
When I answer “yes” the next question I get is:
“Aren’t you afraid of being hit by a car?”
The number #1 reason many people don’t get into cycling is the fear of dealing with cars on the road. It’s a real concern. More than 52,000 cyclists have been killed in traffic accidents over the last 80 years. As often as drivers get mad/irritated with cyclists, a recent study in Toronto shows that these accidents are almost always the fault of the driver.
It is amazing that when you jump on a bike, and put on a helmet, that drivers seem to forget that you are a human being. I’ve ridden over 20,000 miles in the last 2 years and I’ve had numerous negative encounters with automobiles, but I’ve been lucky enough to escape an actual collision. My philosophy is two fold:
- Assume nothing – I assume that no car can see me. Therefore, I expect them to turn in front of me, cut me off, etc. This puts me in a very defensive position that helps eliminate potential collisions
- Keep your head on a swivel – Always be very aware of your surroundings and think 2 steps ahead.
There are great organizations out there like Dave Zabriskie’s Yield to Life that are trying to make a difference. It’s been especially frustrating here in Texas because our Governor, Rick Perry, recently vetoed a safe passing bill that would have made the roads a little safer for cyclists (as well as runners, walkers, construction workers, etc.). Bike Texas is trying to do what it can, but it’s sad to see our elected officials ignore the safety of cyclists, runners and other citizens trying to live a healthier lifestyle.