Recognising the time, place and signs to be safe

School zone sign showing 40km limit and times it applies

Sign of the times: be aware of the sort of vehicle and pedestrian traffic you're likely to be sharing the road with. Photo: Eddie Barkla

We all have regimented regimes, governing our days: sleeping, eating, working or being active in sport or relaxing in front of the TV.  We look forward to these every day, regular as clock work.

Our cycling routines could well be the same case, having adopted required behaviours for riding times and routes that we stick to religiously. We meet the same cars or other shared road users such as other cyclists, walkers and joggers sharing their regimented life style.

Having a sustained well balanced lifestyle of sleep, food, drink and exercise and challenges of the mind body and soul can be very beneficial for sustained health. Getting caught out of routine or trying something new can be quite daunting and challenging.

The shared road users around us would be no different when suddenly a route they have been using for years has a slower moving cyclist blocking their normal free moving routine and they can become time challenged. Time challenged people on the road can be unpredictable and we as cyclists may well need to modify our riding style to be more defensive and alert when we get caught with sudden changes.

Some of the classic time challenged people are parents dropping their children off at school. We can all identify with the pre-breakfast discussions of what was meant to done, that wasn’t done, but is due today or where did I leave what it is, that I need for today, but think it has been shifted and I can’t find it.  By the time they are in the car it is like a pressure cooker ready to blow its valve.

The sense of urgency gets lost on children who have more important agendas like: is my hair straight, my clothes aren’t cool, and other high youth priorities of life like why can’t I have a mobile phone.

By the time they are within cooee of the school grounds it is the parents thinking how can I eject these children and regain some sanity for my day.  The all elusive car parking space suddenly appears and the car develops the ability to move sideways at a great rate of knots and squeeze into a space not normally considered big enough.

Where are we as cyclist if caught in this time warp?  Usually being squeezed for space right beside the car un-noticed.  The answer for us is being aware that this time of day and zone being a dangerous place  particularly if we try making a passing move on the inside of any vehicle.

As the time of day moves on we find that around lunch time shared road users change being time challenged in their thinking. The last minute dash for the lunch date or squeeze in shopping and the mind is more on food, friends, choice of product and parking and will I have time, looking for cyclists is an afterthought.

Where cyclists position themselves defensively on the road is very important. The visitor or tourist that is looking for the place of interest or just gazing at the ambience of the local sites is more likely to be slow moving and indecisive about their decision making than following sensible road use behaviours. They generally fill the bike lane or space closer on the left making an issue for both cyclist and local drivers how to safely get around them.

What’s in it for the bike rider? Think first before rushing in, be defensive and make sure that you are seen, watch for the opening door the car pulling in or out of parking spaces without indication. Time challenged shared road users won’t necessarily react as we may think, whether they be time poor or time wealthy, in making decisions of where and what they are doing.

In tourist areas pedestrians can be as big of a challenge as the car drivers with either darting out across the road or dawdling along with little thought as to cyclists let alone cars.  As cyclists we can have the same traits when we feel time challenged and are in unfamiliar circumstances and tend to make rash decisions.

It is Easter and the message is to recognise the signs the place and what we are faced with and respond in good time.

See you on the road soon God willing

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