Lately there has been an increase in serious, even deadly, accidents involving cyclists and vehicles, including a few high profile pro triathletes. This is due in part to the rapid growth of cycling and triathlon in the U.S. simply putting more cyclists on the roads.
As cyclists and triathletes we have as much right to the roads as anyone in a vehicle. However, American drivers not only tend to disagree with our right to the road, they are also some of the worst drivers in the world anyway. They are incompetent, self-centered, rushed, and all too often distracted. A deadly combination if you're another driver, much less a cyclist.
Yet, we still want to, and have a right to, ride our public roads. Below are 10 essential tips to keep triathletes safe on the open roads.
Know the Law and Your Rights
Back in the days before smartphones I had a laminated copy of the state bicycle traffic laws. Now I have the file saved on my phone. You'd be surprised how few people really know the traffic laws regarding bicycles, including the police.
You must know these laws and be prepared to access them. It will keep you safe and might just get you out of a wrongful ticket.
Bring Your Phone/Camera
We all hope nothing happens on the road, but when it does be prepared to document it. This could be a vital piece of defense if things get legal. Also, irrational people are often a bit more rational when they know they're being recorded.
Don't Wear Earphones
For some reason I can't understand many cyclists, runners, walkers, etc. like to exercise with music, or podcasts, or whatever distraction they prefer. I can't relate to the need to be distracted from what you are doing, particularly when you love doing it.
However, on the bike this is a BIG mistake. Earphones inhibit your ability to hear what's coming up behind you and distort your spatial awareness. When it's your life versus that hot new Jay-Z album, the choice is obvious: leave the earphones at home.
That goes for taking phone calls as well. If you need to use your phone, stop and deal with the call. Don't try to ride and talk at the same time, even if it is hands free.