Posted by: David D. Daggett | April 25, 2012

Most Dangerous Element

Most Dangerous Element

       This past week we had a stark, and local, reminder of the most dangerous aspect of our training. We lost local athlete and 2007 Ironman Lake Placid finisher Kathy Shubert when she was struck by a motor vehicle while riding her bicycle. Our hearts, prayers, and condolences go out to Kathy’s family and friends.

        Bicycling is the element of our training that incurs the greatest risk. Statistics show that approximately 2% of all fatalities in the United States involving motor vehicles are bicyclists. We have a much higher rate than, for example, European countries. Accordingly, this is an important area to focus our safety considerations.

       First and foremost, we all need to work hard to be good ambassadors for the cycling community. Unfortunately, motorists tend to have a negative impression of us, much of which we have earned. That means we have double the obligation, individually and collectively, to work on our reputation.

         Of course, being a good ambassador means following all traffic laws. But, it is more than that. It is behaving in a way that generally does not offend motorists. While I readily admit “we can’t win them all,” there are things we can do. For example virtually all motorists ( including my wife ) get upset when cyclists ride two or more abreast in traffic. Our righteous indignation that we are legally allowed to do so garners us no good will when it offends virtually every motorist.

        Then, there are the basics. Please wear a helmet every single time you ride. A very large percentage of brain injuries can be avoided or greatly lessened simply by wearing a helmet. Further, make it an absolute rule that your children wear a helmet every single time they ride, or use a skateboard, scooter, or roller skates.

          Visibility is important too. Unbelievably, a number of years ago a bike helmet company actually made camouflaged bike helmets! Give motorists every opportunity to see you. There are many riding techniques that are helpful, such as always designing your routes so that the morning or evening sun is at your back preventing motorists from losing you in a blind spot. I have found that mornings are generally safer than evenings, and by all means I avoid Friday evenings.

       Lastly, stay alert and use all of your senses. For some, this unfortunately means riding without head phones. Many people want to debate or argue, but the fact is that you cannot possibly be as alert when your senses are muted with your phones. Besides, you can’t hear the birds and the squirrels and all of the other wonders and sounds of nature with your ears clogged.

      Please be safe. If we all work together to be good ambassadors for the cycling community the roads will be safer for all of us.

Keeping it safe,

David

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