Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and what should have been a routine commute home from work, class, or some other activity becomes a dramatic moment. Accidents happen. Sometimes they occur between bikes and cars, or with pedestrians. Often times they could have been prevented with just some simple preparations, and remembering the basics.
Last week I had an incident with a car and hit my head hard enough for a concussion. This reminds us all to take a look at the basics once again.
To the cyclist: Helmet. There is a surprising amount of discussion about whether helmets should be worn. Although it is an individual decision, I stand by my helmet, as it has once again saved me from what could have been a more serious injury. It does mean that from time to time I get helmet hair, but that is a small price to pay for having the severity of an injury reduced.
Hydration: In the summer, especially the sort of summer we’ve been having in the United States this year – with record heat and drought – hydration is incredibly important. When it is this hot, even quietly enjoying the sun without exerting oneself can lead to dehydration. If you cycle to other kinds of fitness and athletic activities, maintaining an awareness of hydration throughout the day is key. Dehydration, amongst other concerns, leads to delayed reaction times which compromises safety on the roads. (Here is another piece on bike commuting in the summer.)
To the drivers: We share the road. Most of the time the cyclists will be to your right. A last minute right-hand turn without a directional can be dangerous to many other road users. In Massachusetts certainly, and across the United States bicycles are most frequently classified as vehicles. This means, just as with any other vehicle, the bicycle gets the right-of-way when going straight. Turning vehicles yield to those in the lanes they cross – this includes a right turning car that must cross a bike lane. And bicycles must yield appropriately as well.
There are many more basics than these, but they are an excellent reminder to each of us as we pedal the roads of the world. Simple things such as manners, alert observation, and basic preparation go a long way to foster everyone’s safety and health.