Sunday, September 23, 2012

Safety Considerations #2 - Riding Safely

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My Thoughts On Riding Safety
These past few days my thoughts have been on the tragic accident at the recent Penang, Malaysia Event -CFAL4 (see Safety Considerations #1 - Tragic Incident At CFAL4, Malaysia) where a cyclist died tragically.
These are my reflections as a newbie rider, perhaps I will learn more from the experienced riders when I ride more often.

My thoughts:

1. How can we all try to avoid incidents like this?
2. How should we as bikers behave when riding? Ride Safe!
3. How should we as motorist behave when driving?
4. What else can be done?

How To Avoid Incidents Like This?

Letter to the Minister by a friend of a cyclist who died in a Singapore accident.
1. Ignorance! That is always the core issue in safety. So we have to educate ourselves to ride safe and also educate others to be aware of cyclists and give them due considerations. 
2, If a cyclist in your group rides recklessly, remind them of the Penang incident, a split second error can cause injury or even death.

3. When talking to motorists, try to tell them to watch out for cyclists and give them the 3-feet buffer distance when overtaking. Of course, don't go to lengths as it will sound like preaching, take a subtle approach.

Bikers Safety

Always remember we are on two wheels - it can be fun riding but a bicycle is one of the most unstable and unbalance mode of transport. Meeting a sudden bump or pothole while riding fast can cause one to lose balance, so be alert; look at the road ahead and notice what is in front.

A. Safety Gear

1. Helmets are a must. No hemlets no ride is a good rule.

2. Gloves for long rides are helpful to take the stress off the hands.
3. Always make yourself noticable! A biker's profile when compared to a car is negligible

4. So advertise your presence. Wear bright colored clothes, especially for night riding. Reflective vests would be an added bonus.

5. Ensure your bikes have front and rear blinking lights which are bright and switch them on even during the day. Lights attached to the helmets will also be useful, especially if you to need to alight from you bicycle at night.
6.Shoes will protect your feet, but make sure they are comfortable and breath well. I once wore shoe that did not have adequate ventilation and end up with prickly feet after one hour's riding.

7. Tie shoe-laces outwards and away from the bicycle gears so that they do not get caught up in the gears.

8. Wear a bandana, etc. to absorb any forehead sweat. Sweat getting into the eyes can be painful and a distraction.

9. To protect from the sun, use sun-block or even arm gloves. A strong tan may look good, but could lead to future skin problems.
10. Have a first-aid kit on board.

B. Ride Safe!

1. Whenever possible ride in single file and avoid riding abreast.
2. Ride as close to the road edge as possible.
3. Avoid any sudden movements, i.e. don't swerve in and out - other motorists may not anticipate your movement.
4. Be alert - use you ears, eyes to feel your surrounding. Look out or Listen out for other traffic.
5. Don't ride too close to each other, keep a safe distance from the rider in front of you. Many an accident have happened when the front rider applied emergency brakes and the rear rider could not stop in time. A good rule of thumb is 3-5 bike lengths behind the bike in front.
6. When swinging across lanes, Ensure that the road is clear before swinging across lanes. Mirrors would be helpful, but physically turning back to look is the best. As a newbie, sometimes turn-backs caused me to ride wobbly - so practice your turn-backs.

7. If you have to stop at busy roads, try to stop at a place where there is a road shoulder. Quickly pull your bike onto the shoulder.

8. Don't stop in dark underpasses especially during the day. Coming in from the glaring sunlight, a rider will be blind when riding into these underpasses. So vice versa - when going into underpasses, go slow.
9. Remember the hand signals we learnt as learner motor-cyclists, use these as standardized signals and tell your biking buddies about it. Standardized hand signals will avoid confusion.

C. Safe Group Riding

1. Prior to the ride, have a safety briefing to ensure participants are clear on the dangerous sections of the route, and are also clear on riding safety.
2. Plan for re-grouping points and make all aware where these are.
3. For large groups, a couple of leaders, a few marshals and a couple or more sweepers will ensure an enjoyable ride. Some ride faster than others, some slower - so extra sweepers will be helpful to fold the slower riders.
4. All leaders, marshals and sweepers must know the route well.
5. For communications between them, walkie-talkies will be useful.
6. For large groups, it will be good to stop for quick re-group before turning at busy junctions. Marshals should stop other oncoming traffic for the group to quickly cross. This may inconvenience other motorist, but it would be safer than bikers sporadically crossing. 

D. Riding Routes

1. Plan ahead!
2. Whenever possible, ride at roads where there are minimum traffic. Avoid highways, busy roads, especially roads with fast traffic. Speed kills!
3. If night riding is carried out, try to ride in residential road where there traffic is minimum

E. What Else?

1. Be active in campaigning for bicycling lanes. There are many events, forums to attend. Whenever possible support such events.
2. Attend discussions/forums on riding safety.

3. Get business corporation to support/sponsor riding safety, eg road signs, advertisements.
4. Shell Malaysia organizes "Shell Traffic Games", encourage youngsters to attend such games so that they will pick up good traffic habits from a young age.
5. Push for more Government involvement in educating motorists of all age on safety.

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Reflections / Safety Considerations #2
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  1. hi Jotaro,

    It is great that you write about safety, keep it up.

    As a road user myself(i drive,ride a motorbike,cycle) the main problem is the mentality of motorist, our malaysian motorist, just doesn't know how to slow down and don't give a damn to slow moving vehicles.

    I use the federal highway bike lane often (on a motorbike) and often encounter speeding motobikers that zips past inches from you.

    I don't even dare to cycle on these lanes like samo. its almost like suicide.

    car drivers will curse at cyclist who took the whole lane. heavy vehicles are just 'blind' towards cyclist, if they hit u, it is just small matter to them, as for the cyclist, ur brain matter will spread like tomato sauce, or crippled for life.

    from you foto, i can see some are cycling in the middle of the car lane, or taking a whole lane, or cycle a bit further out from the road shoulder.

    they will argue, it is their right, it is to prevent vehicles from pushing you to further to the side, yes, all these are correct.
    But our drivers just don't give a damn.

    1. Thanks babi3. Your comments are encouraging.

      I may write more on safety as I ride more and learn more.

      I also notice that in the State 21 out of 50 states makes it mandatory for motorist to give the 3feet clearance for cyclists. Perhaps we should push for that.