Di Carolin is passionate about riding on dirt, but sometimes even she has to hit the tar. So to help you stay safe here’s Di’s things to think about when cycling on public roads.
Whether you are putting in serious hours of training or just riding for fun, riding on the road can be great. There is far less wear and tear on your bike on the road, especially in winter when mud on the trails can chew up your drive train in no time. But tar eats up your MTB tyres much faster than dirt, so if you are going to ride on the road I suggest a road bike or getting a set of slicks (road tyres for the MTB).
Last Sunday I met one of my mountain bike skills students for a lesson, and the first thing she said when I told her we were going to ride on the road, to where the lesson was to begin was, “I am scared of riding on the road!” This seems to be the case for many women, so I apologise for straying from the trails to the tar but this is an important topic.
Your attitude plays a massive role when riding on the road; being aggressive and rude, riding in big groups across the road and having complete disregard for road rules is not on! We need to co-exist with other road users and all have respect for each other and the laws of the road. Then hopefully one day we’ll all be safer. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t yell at an offending motorist if he or she is about to run you off the road. But try to keep the language out of the gutter. You do need to be assertive, but for the sake of all concerned, let’s do our best to be polite and considerate.
Sus Di’s #RoadSafetyTips
Be alert at all times and anticipate what drivers may do. Look ahead and assess what could happen; no daydreaming on the bike!
Watch out for busses and trucks, the drivers are high up and less likely to see you than car drivers. Be especially careful on corners, they tend to cut in close to the curb so don’t be there when they turn. Anticipate!
Beware of elderly drivers, their eye sight and reflexes aren’t what they were and half the time they don’t even see us.
Always indicate with your arms. Look first to see what’s coming, then stick out your hand so that drivers can see your intention. They can’t read your mind! If you are worried about letting go of your handlebar and falling, then practice until you feel confident before you go and ride out on the road.
Be visible! I know we all look slimmer in black but it isn’t easy to see. Invest in clothing with reflective strips. Have a white light at the front of the bike and a flashing red light at the back at all times! (It’s the law now.)
Please make sure you know and obey the traffic laws, they apply as much to you as to the cars. No riding through red lights and stop streets. It’s illegal to ride on motorways! Pavements are a no-no unless there is a bike path painted on them.
When you cycle past parked cars always be aware that someone may open a car door or pull out in front of you. So leave some space between you and the stationary vehicles.
Be careful of painted lines and filled crack when it is wet. Give yourself more braking time in the wet too.
If a driver is polite and waits to let you go, please thank them with a smile and a wave. Encourage positive behaviour.
Last but not least: Be confident! Be assertive! Be polite!
Here is something interesting:
I have always stuck as far left as possible on the road, but when I was doing some research for this article I realised that one shouldn’t always stay as far left as possible, for these reasons: There is often debris and glass, which could cause you to fall or puncture a tyre. Gutters and drain covers can be hazardous and cause you to fall.
If you ride a metre from the side of the road it forces a vehicle to cross the centre line to pass you. This prevents them from passing too close to you when there are on-coming vehicles. Though, I have to say, in my experience, this is not always the case. But, one can live in hope. If you have that metre from the side, at least you have space to move away from the vehicle if it is too close.
In windy weather that metre from the curb gives you space to manoeuvre if you get caught by a gust.
This is what the National Traffic act says about cyclists:
- You must be seated on your saddle.
- You must ride single file.
- You may not deliberately swerve from side to side.
- If you are riding on a public road where there is a bicycle lane you MUST use that bicycle lane.
I hope that this has been informative. Be safe out there, ladies and be sensible.