Petunia Mafia recently hosted a panel of speakers to offer up their perspectives on cyclist’s safety. Whether it’s gear, education, or behavior, we want every ride to end up a safe one. Lots of people requested a recap of the info, so the presenter’s highlights follow:
Mara Abbott, Olympic road racer; the first U.S. cyclist ever to win the Giro Donne, one of the Grand Tours of women’s bicycle racing; Giro Rosa champion; multiple-time Mt Evans Hill Climb winner; National Road Race Champion; columnist; cycling legend. Mara imparted her practical knowledge of cycling safety based on her vast experience as a racer and commuter.
- Stay predictable! A car should be able to guess what you’ll do next.
- Be visible. Wear bright clothing colors (and in Petunia Mafia speak, this extends to patterns).
- Stay on the leftmost side of the bike lane. Don’t weave in and out of parked cars along the roadside. Again, be predictable.
- If you wear ear buds to listen to music, leave the one closest to traffic out of your ear (in the US that’s your left ear) so you can hear approaching vehicles
- Don’t be disrespectful or cocky. In a cyclist versus vehicle incident, the cyclist loses, so any point you make on principle will probably be a loss anyway. Being kind helps motorists, police, and non-cyclists feel more empathy toward the cycling community. That affects how we’re treated on scene, on the law books, and on the road.
John Flora, Personal Injury Lawyer (licensed in CO and VA) and cyclist imparted sage advice to protect the cyclist’s interests.
What to do BEFORE an incident:
Have auto insurance with these 2 clauses:
- Medical Payment Benefits: this helps cover deductibles and co-pays, plus out of pocket medical expenses. An ambulance ride and visit to the ER will be $5k minimum.
- Uninsured/Underinsured coverage. 30% of motorists in CO don’t carry auto insurance. If you’re injured by one of these hacks, you’re on the line for 100% of your personal and property losses.
The day after this talk I added $5k in Med Pay coverage, which ended up costing $45 every 6 months for the 2 drivers on my plan. Benefits of $10k would have been $65/6 months. Uninsured coverage increased our bill by $128/6 months with $50,000 in benefits. *I had the creepy feeling similar to registering as an organ donor that I’d die the next day because I signed up. However, I’ve ridden over 150 miles since increasing insurance and haven’t had an incident. So do it.
What to do AFTER an incident:
- Do a self-assessment…are you OK? Hurt? How badly?
- Is the scene safe and secure? If you’re OK to move, get out harm’s way.
- If there’s a vehicle involved, call 911. They’ll assess your body and the scene. If you don’t immediately seek medical attention and the adrenaline and shock wears off, you may recognize you’re more hurt and rattled than you initially thought. Also important is that by the act of calling authorities a formal report has been started. This allows you to get documentation just in case you need it. John’s heard multiple stories of someone promising to pay for damaged property or medical bills only to change their tune when they hear how much the cost is.
- After you take care of yourself, call your insurance company to log a property or personal claim – the next day is fine. The other party’s insurance company will most likely call you to get your side of the story. You don’t have to talk to the other insurance company as they’re digging to find fault in your story; just say you’re not ready to talk about it at this time and hang up.
- Considerations to involving a personal injury lawyer: they’re paid from the winning compensation so that everyone can engage a lawyer, not just the wealthy. Client reimbursement is not only for property and medical bills, but the loss of wages from not being able to perform as usual, the time involved in dealing with all this crap, and other potential quality of life loss due to the accident.
Todd Brady, Active Lifestyle Manager at Nite Ize
It used to be unusual for non-pros to wear helmets. Now that helmets are accepted as standard issue gear for everyone, the hope is that anyone riding will have front and rear lights on – always – for safety.
- The most important aspect to be noticed by motorists is bike lighting that flashes, not the lumens (brightness). Lumens are important for the cyclist to see where they’re going, but blinking is what GETS you seen. Inexpensive flashing lights will get the job done. The more you spend, the more features and tech you’ll get.
- Oscillating bulbs – 2 varying speeds on the same bike light – attracts a driver’s attention even better than one flashing light. This is true for the white front light and the rear red light. Check out Nite Ize’s Radiant 125.
- Rechargeable battery lights have a time frame of about 3 hours…battery powered lights last longer. Flashing sucks less time from a light than a steady on. So choose the type of light you prefer, recharge your battery, and conserve or carry extra lights or batteries if you’re going on a loooong ride.
- The movement of heels rotating pedals makes the brain recognize a human more than the body itself, so wear reflective on your pedals, shoes, or ankle area.
Brenna Backe, Board Member of Cyclists 4 Community
C4C works with the Transportation Advisory Board and the City of Boulder to improve cyclists’ safety. This not-for-profit undertakes fundraising that has allowed them to:
- Purchase mobile electronic and traffic signs to help educate on vehicle law so that drivers know the “3 feet” rules and passing allowances i.e. motorists can lawfully cross the solid yellow center line to avoid a cyclist, tractor, runner, etc on the roadside
- Distribute bike lights to CU and BVSD students in conjunction with Nite Ize
- Distribute funds to our neighbors in need (Cyclists 4 Jamestown, Cyclists 4 Lyons)
- Implement programs C4C believes will keep us co-existing peacefully with our 4-wheeled friends
“Vision Zero” is Boulder’s plan to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities resulting from traffic collisions. This is the Boulder Top Collision Locations Map & Vision Zero Strategies page; is your neighborhood near a top collision location?
It’s important to download the local Transportation Advisory Board’s “Inquire Boulder” app to report the close calls you’ve had. Even in this high-tech age the varying city, county, and sheriff agencies’ reporting systems aren’t interconnected, so if you have an incident in Boulder County, the city police may not have details on that same repeating perpetrator. Also, the police only share actual collision data with the Transportation Advisory Board, but not “close call” data. Therefore citizens should use the app to proactively prevent and document high risk areas to be addressed. It’s a pretty cool app where you can drop a pin on a map, upload photos, and add comments. From this the city will be able to make more informed decisions on street safety improvements.
May your rides be happy and your passage safe.