Community

Heidi Swift offers the following tips for riding in traffic:

Take to the streets: Contrary to what you might think, riding on the sidewalk is far more dangerous than riding in the streets….

Go with the flow: Always ride in the direction of traffic, no matter how tempting it might be to do otherwise….

Be a smooth mover: Riding in a straight, steady line makes it easier for motorists and others around you to predict your next move….

Beware of dangerous doors: Riding next to parked cars presents a unique danger — the thoughtlessly opened door….

Be kind to the big ones: Large vehicles such as trucks and buses often have big blind spots on the sides and back, which makes it harder to see you….

Take the lane: In certain cases, it’s actually safer to take the entire lane of travel (it’s also perfectly legal)….

Get bright but ride like you’re invisible: The more visible you are, the better….

Great advice. Her words of wisdom appeared in an article titled, “The road to kindness — it helps to wave.” While Heidi’s article deals primarily with cross-cultural communications between cyclists and motorists, the bit about waving extends to the cycling community itself, too, I think. I’m surprised by the number of riders I encounter on the local bike path who don’t wave. To be sure, the majority of people are quick to offer a friendly nod in your direction. But the ones who don’t are a mystery to me. If cycling wants to attract more supporters, it needs to be as welcoming as possible.

I used to drive a Jeep Wrangler. Everyone who drives a Jeep Wrangler learns right away that all drivers of Jeep Wranglers wave to all other drivers of Jeep Wranglers. (I no longer own a Jeep Wrangler.) The same code is in play among motorcyclists. (I sold my motorcycle so I could use the money for my bike and bike stuff.) I’ll confess, for any number of reasons (some conscious, others not so conscious, I’m sure), I liked the sense of community that came with my Wrangler and my motorcycle. The community dimension is also one of the reasons I’m drawn to cycling. I guess what I’m thinking is that if friendliness denoted by the simple gesture of a wave has the potential to be a key factor in bridging the distance between cyclists and drivers, then how much more is the cycling community itself strengthened by similar gestures among those who already ride? Cheers.

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