Fluro won't save you, cyclist

Last updated 05:00 07/06/2014

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Cyclists, do you feel safe?

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I am fortunate that I live in a fairly low population area, but even here I have found that my safety is greatly increased by being very actively safety conscious.

Even though 95 per cent of motorists and cyclists are safe road users, there is 5 percent on both sides who don't play nicely.

Incidentally, truck drivers are by far the best road users, they are professional road users in every sense; the most problems come from private cars.

Just this morning I had a car on a long, wide empty stretch of residential road veer within a metre of me and then moved back out immediately afterwards.

I got the impression that they resented that I was too far out from the gutter.

Motorists should be aware that in towns and suburbia, the region from the gutter to the bit where cars drive is where the broken glass and road crap accumulates (this is also where they put cycle lanes - D'uh!).

One piece of glass no bigger than a tip of a ballpoint pen is enough to cut your tyre, and puncture your tube, possibly more than one if you can't find the glass.

Out of town, the left-hand white line is typically also the edge of the seal so there is no option other than to share the lane with vehicles. As such, my general regimen of cycle safety is:

1. Always check behind. I turn my head sideways using peripheral vision every 5-30 seconds, depending on the road.

2. Give a friendly wave before and after a vehicle passes me - active pacification.

3. At a stretch of road that is narrow with poor visibility and no room to move left, I accelerate over rises to minimise the time where a vehicle may close in from behind, and keep my head high so my helmet becomes visible over a rise.

4. Avoid busy main roads, especially at peak traffic times (this is semi-rural), such as 6am in 100km zones on SH2 with no seal left of the white line where articulated trucks and their wash almost throw you from your bike.

5. Assume you haven't been seen by other road users. Wearing fluro won't change how other drivers behave when they're overtaking you.

6. Use flashing rather than solid beam lights in low visibility except if it is dark.

7. Take up cyclocross so that if you are forced off the edge of the road you can stay upright on unstable surfaces, because broken collar bones are not only painful they also keep you off your bike.

8. Try mountain biking in certain locations where locals are actively aggressive towards cyclists, as I found out recently in a race in a certain valley south of Upper Hutt.

New Zealand's roading infrastructure is minimalist and is designed as just enough and no more, with only motorised vehicles in mind.

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Cycle lanes in towns are a good idea but poor in application because they are put where all the puncture inducing crap goes.

Because of all this, cyclists must rely on themselves as much as possible to stay safe.

PS. I'm serious that truck drivers deserve some kudos for their professional driving. 

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