“If you can’t see my mirrors then I can’t see you.” It’s a warning you’re probably familiar with on the back of trucks. You’d think cars are big enough not to be missed but those signs seem to indicate otherwise. How much more vulnerable are cyclists?
We need to be forever conscious of where and how we place ourselves in the line of sight of other road users.
Gaining eye contact with motorists is very important, although tinted windows and dark glasses on a low light day make it almost impossible to be sure of eye contact.
If you can’t make eye contact you need to learn to ride defensively, anticipating what a car will do. That sometimes involves stopping or slowing down so you can take action to keep out of the pathway of the car. Watching the approach of vehicles helps decide whether you will make it safely over an intersection.
We can make it easier for drivers to see us by wearing colours that are highly visible which doesn’t necessarily mean fluoro green and orange. Tops and helmet colour are a good start to increasing the chance of being seen.
The position you take on the road will also increase your visibility. Keep a straight line, don’t wind in and out of a car’s line of sight. When coming to corners and roundabouts take the position of a car. It puts you right where other road users would be expecting a vehicle to appear. This is especially important at roundabouts. You need to fill the lane as a car would, although check carefully to make sure it’s safe to move into the laneway.
Riding right to the left or cutting a straight line across the curve of the corner both increase your risk of being squeezed out of lane by a driver who thinks they have plenty of room to pass.
Other simple strategies can include choosing routes where we only make a left hand turn and ride a loop. Be friendly. Wave to motorist approaching an intersection. Wave to those passing where you see the driver look in the mirror to check they have passed you safely.
I’ve ridden the same circuit for many years and now the wave hello is second nature. Some even give the friendly toot when passing to make sure I am aware they are near me. It’s all part of making sure we all see each other.
See you on the road soon, God willing.
Photo from www.pedbikeimages.org Dan Burden