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Bicycle Safety: Road Hazards, Accident Prevention and Risk Mitigation
(part 7)

Previous: Part 6

3. Safe Riding Techniques On a Dedicated Bike Lane or Recreation Path

Our communities needs more bike lanes and recreation paths. If your city or community has them, tell your City Council or Public Works department how much you appreciate them...and that you want to see more! If your community does not have bike lanes or paths, be sure to voice your opinion to City Council.

Street-side bike lanes are very useful. Please remember that many cities, such as Los Angeles, may allow vehicles to be parked in bike lanes in certain areas. Also note that an automobile may enter a bike lane in order to make a turn. In Los Angeles, the motorist must give bicyclists at least 200 feet of clearance before entering a bike lane.

On dedicated bike or recreation paths look out for children, pets and stopped "traffic". If you need to pass a fellow bicyclist or warn a pedestrian, be vocal or use a bike bell. On Southern California paths, a biker who wants to pass often states "On Your Left!" top of page

4. Some Personal Observations

After having ridden in busy LA traffic for over six months, I have noticed something very encouraging: the respect of virtually 99% of motorists in my company. In fact, I will even say that California motorists respect me and my bicycle more than they do each other: they will impatiently honk at a fellow motorist in front of them who is not moving "fast enough" yet, almost invariably, they will give me clearance, or wait behind me until they can use the passing lane.

Perhaps it's the "non-aggressive" and totally-serious appearance of a commuter bike. Perhaps it's the riding technique: non-aggressive, not darting/weaving and strictly complying to all traffic signals -- and most importantly -- respecting other motorists. Perhaps it's all the safety gear I use: If you demonstrate a respect for your own personal safety, others will respect you.

As a serious commuter, don't be surprised if people start approaching you with questions. "Serious bikes" are not that common, especially in the US, so people are naturally inquisitive. This is an opportunity to promote bicycling as a realistic, alternative form of transportation. Do not speak negatively (such as about other motorists); do not sound rebellious. Do point out how much money and time you're saving by not having to gas up. Do mention the environmental benefits of bike commuting. ( A biker once made the following comment: "I have children. And I want them inherit a world with less pollution and less traffic congestion. Bicycling is one step towards that goal.") Do point out the fitness aspects of biking. Do tell of all the gorgeous bike paths you've been on. And, of course, don't forget to mention all the fun you're having!

Finally, this encouraging note: Not only will people ask you a lot of questions, many will go out of their way to thank or compliment you for using a bike with safety gear -- and riding it safely. top of page

Guide to Bicycle Safety: [Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7]

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