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Ride Awake, Stay Safe! Be Invisible!

Jonno Leonard - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

So many of us have concerns about our own safety when we are out biking. What steps can we take to keep ourselves upright and intact? Here are some ways I treat the matter (and I mean it about being invisible, read on to find out more...)

Firstly, assume a healthy sense of paranoia, and that all other road users are out to get you. They aren't, but neither are they out to nurture and lovingly care for you, so keep your wits about you.

Keep your mind on the job of riding. I shun the use of headphones, and definitely phones, when riding. You need to hear what's coming up behind you.

Keep it loud! That's your clothing, not your headphones (because you aren't using them, right?) There is no shortage of fluro offerings around now, and you can pick up a basic vest for $10 off trademe, so no excuses there. Cool-looking ones cost a bit more, of course, but to be seen is to be safe.

Watch the speed. Ebikes are quick, and often motorists and even pedestrians may not expect you to close the gap to them as fast as you are able to. 

Look, signal, look again.......don't twitch out of your lane without being certain you can do so safely. Speedy cyclists coming up behind can be as much of a risk as motor vehicles. So look back (but not in anger...)

Get your bike checked and serviced regularly. Worn brake pads, stretched chains and cables, and under-inflated tyres are some of the most common acts of criminal maintenance we come across. 

Gear up for the 'just in case'. Wear proper shoes, not jandals/sandals, a decent helmet (worn forwards, not perched on the back of your head like a skullcap), and lightweight gloves are a good idea too. Think about what touches down first if you have a spill, and it's usually feet and hands.

Be polite to other roadusers. Sometimes hard, I know, but you don't want to upset or frustrate motorists. Their cars are big and hard, and one grumpy driver can ruin your whole day. Choose your battles wisely, it is better to be quietly frustrated than bumped off the road.

And my top tip, is 'ride as if you are invisible'. If you begin with the assumption nobody can see you, you will usually be pleasantly surprised when they do, but prepared (and with a plan of action) when they don't. Drivers coming out of side roads are a big one here, especially when you are hurtling downhill with a big grin on your face. Have your fingers on the brakes, sit upright so you can be seen, and make eye contact with the driver so you know they have seen you.

If you make these habits your habits, you will be a good defensive cyclist. Overall, cycling is a safe sport, and the health and travel benefits far outweigh any risk. Don't cut corners on your safety though, you are too important for that.

Ride on, and ride safe.

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