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Last login: Thursday, May 20, 2010
Any activity we undertake has inherent risks (including sitting on the couch). We choose the activities we like, and we do our best to minimize our risks. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of a few key ways they can improve their odds when cycling. As one example, when a lane is too narrow to safely allow for a motorist to pass a cyclist within the lane, it is safest, and legal for the cyclist to use the full width of the lane. A related example is the "door zone" situation where cars are parked parallel along the road. The "door zone" is the area which car doors might be opened into, and cyclists would do well to avoid it completely. Novice cyclists ride so close to the cars such that if a door were opened in their path, their odds of a serious injury are much higher than need be. While one may attempt to lookinto each car for a potential conflict, it is more important to focus your attention on the roadway, plus tinted windows can impair your ability to accurately judge for occupancy. If there is insufficient width remaining forin-lane passing, then the safest move for the cyclist is to position themselves in the center of the lane, to communicate to oncoming motorists that it is too narrow to pass in the lane. Unfortunately, uneducated motorists don't recognize the door zone as a dangerous place for cyclists, and may get upset when they see what appears to them to be a perfectly wide enough road, and a cyclist in front of them, preventing an in-lane pass. So an awareness campaign needs to be launched. In the mean time, keep you cool, recognize you're doing what is safe, legal and appropriate, and that the horn-honkers are communicating both that they see you (a good thing!), and that they are simply not aware of the danger that you are avoiding by riding outside the door zone.
Obviously, care must be taken when changing positionsfrom the right hand edge, to the center of the lane, including planning ahead,checking for a gap, signaling, and checking for cooperation. These skills, and others are taught in a hands-on fashion by a number of trained instructors in the San Diego region. To find out times and locations of these classes, visit the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition website at sdcbc.org, click on "classes". Invest some of your time to learn what you can about improving your odds, and the dividends will continue for a lifetime of cycling. You'll enjoy more competence, improve your confidence, and do so courteously.
May 20, 2010 at 10:19 a.m.
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