Traffic Safety

"The urban cyclist's best chance is to gather all the responsibility that can be gathered. Hoard it from those around you. Have faith that you will do a better job with it than they will, and make it so. Don't trust your fate to the police, the planners, the pedestrians, or the paramedics. Don't leave your fate to the stars, or to luck. Definitely don't leave your fate to the drivers."
- Robert Hurst, The Art of Urban Cycling

If you are a beginner, you may have seen more experienced cyclists riding along in the car traffic lane, and wonder "Isn't that dangerous?" Don't cyclists get killed riding in traffic? Well, the truth is that knowing how to ride in traffic, confidently and legally, on a bike that fits and is in good working order, is not demonstrably more dangerous than driving a car. Statistics can always be argued over, but they are not overwhelmingly on the dangerous side. Sadly, many times when a cyclist is hurt or killed, the cyclist could have been doing more to protect himself. This is not being said to blame the victim, but to point out that riding with cars is far from a no-win situation. You can do it, just as many others do, safely, every day!

Here is an article I wrote myself a few years ago which I think is a good introduction. In addition, check out these links:

  • Wikipedia's entry for Vehicular Cycling
  • Share the Road - Rules and Quick Tips for cyclists (also for motorists) from the Bicycle Coalition of Maine [All PDF format]
  • Web version of John Allen's booklet Bicycling Street Smarts, which we also offer for membership in this group.
  • How to Not Get Hit By Cars - another compact safety guide
  • Five Layers of Bicycle Safety - a great expansion of the above link
  • Two pages about lane positioning, one from Bicyclopedia, the other by LAB instructor Bob Bayn
  • "Inattentional Blindness" & Conspicuity: An article summarizing the psychological phenomenon of why people sometimes really don't see things they should have, such as you on your bike, and what can be done about it. Sidewalk cyclists take note: "The driver who hit the bicyclist had pulled into the same driveway every workday for a year and had never seen anyone. She had unconsciously learned that there wasn't anything important to see down the sidewalk." This highlights the importance of riding where drivers are already looking for traffic, not just "trying to keep out of their way".
  • A little test illustrating how easy it is to miss something you're not looking for.
  • Ken Kifer's Bicycle Traffic Safety pages

Members: Please add your own recommendations!

You might also consider the "Road I" course offered by League of American Bicyclist (LAB) instructors around the country. They are generally offered in Maine through the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, see this page. Some of our own members are also licensed instructors!

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Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Where to Donate Used Bikes August 6, 2009 1:34 PM John B.
Vehicular Cycling Blogs November 22, 2009 4:58 PM John B.
Preventing and Responding to Bike Theft June 10, 2011 12:49 PM John B.
Carrying Things by Bike July 22, 2009 8:41 PM John B.
Bike Trails and Maps September 2, 2010 7:21 PM John B.
Flats and Mechanical Issues March 10, 2008 3:30 PM John B.
Studded tires December 16, 2009 11:46 PM john b.
Vehicular Cycling January 21, 2009 10:58 PM John B.
Winter Commuting and Clothing April 10, 2011 10:52 AM former member
Commuting Statistics and Our "Market" March 19, 2007 1:36 PM John B.
Miscellaneous Online Resources September 7, 2008 6:38 AM John B.
Other Local Bike Clubs July 12, 2007 1:33 PM John B.

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