Creative Image Slider: There is nothing to show! Safety on the Road: Dangerous Things that Break Your Concentration while Bicycling

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mission vision1A world where bicycling and sustainable transportation are a way of life... To promote cycling as an environmentally sustainable form of transportation...

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advocacy1The Firefly Brigade is an NGO that promotes the use of the bicycle for clean air and sustainable communities. Our activities that support these goals:

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Safety on the Road: Dangerous Things that Break Your Concentration while Bicycling

 

Finishing a task satisfactorily if not excellently, requires concentration. One cannot simply be on autopilot every time, even as we say we have done an activity hundreds of times that we often say we can do it even with eyes closed. Bicycling, fortunately or unfortunately is one of those things we cannot brag about doing with our eyes closed. If anything, it is an activity that requires eyes wide open, full concentration and quick reaction times. Concentration in bicycling is vital if we want to arrive at our destination in one piece, if at all we want to arrive.

Here is a list of things to avoid using or stop giving attention to while bicycling as they are sure to break our concentration which can lead to disastrous endings.

Smart phones and other gadgets

In these days of social media, free online movies and music, cell phones have become ubiquitous and the more state of the art smart phone you have, the better your perceived social status is. Many bikers are also fans of digital gadgets and equip their bikes with the latest ones and a smart phone is always a good choice to have while bicycling. Many bikers use these smart phones as a multipurpose gadget – music player, GPS device, movie player, FM radio receiver, and of course as a regular phone. They usually plug in an earphone or headphones to listen to music and instantly answer a call. However, doing this while biking is inviting disaster to occur. Listening to music can distract you from noticing and avoiding road hazards. It also makes you less aware of what’s happening in your immediate surroundings, reducing your reaction times greatly. Using headphones is in fact looked upon as disrespectful to other bikers when you are in a group ride.

To avoid having to answer while biking, you can inform your loved ones that you will biking at certain times of the day so they won’t call and even if they did, you wouldn’t be able to answer at once. But if they still call and you think it is an emergency, it is better signal first your intention to stop, then do so at a safe place and then answer. Those with you on a group ride should be able to decode what you are doing and wait or at least slow down so you can catch up after the call.

safety on the roadPromoting Safety on the Road for Cyclists  (This multi-part article examines the complex issue of safety in bicycling on city streets. This is the first in the series.) A persistent reason , or rather excuse, that people give for not cycling, or not cycling more—as in... [Read more ...]

Objects flying from bikes in front of you

This may not be your fault at all but objects dropping and then flying in front of you can really be dangerous even if you are fully concentrated on the road, or especially when you focus your attention too much on the road. A flying piece of paper, canned goods falling from a poorly secured backpack, a book torn off the bike rack due to unravelling tie cords – these unexpected flying objects can wreak havoc on your concentration and cause you to fall of the bike and do a faceplant on the ground. Your first instinct is usually avoidance but then, this action can cause you to veer to one direction and hit a fellow biker. But what you mustn’t do is to abruptly do a death grip the break lever to try stopping immediately. However, doing so will endanger the riders behind you as they would likely do the same and cause the other riders to fall like dominoes. A better option, if you still have the presence of mind, is to point to the offending objects in an exaggerated manner to get the other bikers’ attention and if you intend to stop, signal your intention first, slow down and gradually do stop on the roadside. Doing so will hopefully warn the other bikers on time, allowing them to avoid those flying objects.

 

 

Missing a Turn

Many car drivers on the road have fallen victim to missed turns and in their haste to correct their mistake, initiate a quick maneuver to turn and then lo and behold, they either hit or is hit by another car. It’s good that they are protected inside their iron monsters so they are not hurt or if they are, only slightly. Imagine this same thing happening to you if you missed a turn while biking and after you realize your mistake, you begin to turn and … (cue in sound of metals clashing, thuds and sound of bodies bouncing off other bodies…add in cries, painful moans, calling their mommies…) Changing directions should be a deliberate, calculated action in order to execute it smoothly and without causing stress to yourself or to other bikers. If you missed a turn and need to back track, the best immediate action is keep moving then when it’s safe, stop slowly, and of course, signaling first your intentions, and then go back.

 

No one should go ahead or go back riding inside an ambulance. It would too much of a trauma, especially for newbie riders...you wouldn’t want to jeopardize the lives of your bike group mates by insisting on your riding style or selfish behavior.

 

Group Riding

Group riding is always an enjoyable option for both newbies and experienced bikers. We would usually go with other bikers who have the same interests in a particular ride. This adds to the enjoyment we experience. Finding a like-minded biker is often easy but this can be a double-edged sword during a group ride. Our conversation may take up most of our concentration, our alert level diminished and we become less aware of our surroundings and where we are going and thus, even a slight inattention can cause a major, major accident at the wrong place at the wrong time. (But when is an accident at the right place and right time?)

While bike crashes can be attributed to a number of factors, not the least of which is biker inattention, it rests on the shoulders (butts) of all bikers to take heed of group riding etiquettes, if not outright written rules. Etiquettes imply tacit adherence to gentlemanly or ladylike behavior when faced by other members of the same group, which means you wouldn’t want to jeopardize the lives of your group mates by insisting on your riding style or selfish behavior. This includes avoiding all kinds of known distractions such as those we have discussed above.

We want to enjoy the ride, the environment, the company of other riders but we should not be too engrossed or complacent lest we fall into the temptation of seeking only our own enjoyment. We need to be vigilant at all times if only for the sake of the whole group going together riding into the sunset… and going back with the same number of riders. No one should go ahead or go back riding inside an ambulance. It would too much of a trauma, especially for newbie riders.

It is a rare person who is gifted with the power of great concentration but we can all contribute to make all our rides safe by choosing to avoid distractions and those things that lead us to defy the laws of good behavior on the road. Having the least power of concentration is not a handicap but can be overcome by practice until it becomes a good habit worthy of a bicyclist, be it on a trail, on the road or on the track.

 

 

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