Bike Touring in Washington State
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Crash avoidance: 9 poor choices when cycling

EVERYONE MAKES POOR CHOICES IN LIFE from time-to-time. If we’re smart, when we see the err of our ways, we make corrections. For most things, the world is forgiving. We try not to worry too much about the past, and we move forward with little regret.

Cycling, or bike riding in any form is often less forgiving of poor choices. You can’t make poor choices on a bike for long before something life-changing happens, and you may never be able to recover from it or live-on without regret.

Here are just a few poor choices (that I’ve witnessed repeatedly) that you don’t want to make on a bike.

Stupid rider 1

Salmoning. Salmoning is when a cyclist rides against the flow of traffic. That’s dangerous, because motorists, semi-truck drivers, speeding ambulances and six-ton construction vehicles with large trailers loaded with a bunch of loose equipment… are not looking or expecting you to magically appear from the wrong direction.

Riding at night with no lights or reflective equipment. Visibility is your most important asset on a bike. If motorists can’t see you, you probably don’t exist.

Multi-tasking while riding. Riding with no hands or attempting to eat or drink on the bike while challenging rush hour traffic is just plain stupid. Put both hands on the handlebars and pay attention to your surroundings. Focus!


Trying to navigate urban traffic using aero bars. If you’re on a busy road, you’re not racing, and you’re not testing your endurance capability. Sit up straight, master your maneuverability, ride tall and be seen.

Riding in the gutter. There’s no U.S. law that says you have to ride in the gutter. There’s trash, and glass, and rocks, and curbs, and grates, and uneven pavement in there. Ride in the bike lane, or if there is no bike lane, ride on the right-hand third of the traffic lane. You are traffic.

Riding on sidewalks. Sidewalks are made for walking and walking speeds. The only time sidewalk riding is acceptable is if you are accompanying a small child on a bike or a trike.

Riding too close to parked cars. Imagine cruising along at 16-mph, when the door on that Suburban parked just ahead flings open right into your path. You’ve just been doored! It hurts, or worse. It could push you into adjacent traffic. Don’t get doored.

Texting or yapping on the phone while you’re riding. Leave the smartphone in your pocket. Trying to fiddle with a phone while riding is just as dangerous as it is in a car.

Ignoring red lights and other rules of the road. As a cyclist on U.S. roadways you must “drive” your bicycle in much the same way as you drive your car--legally. Use signaling. Use courtesy. Drive defensively. If you drive your bicycle according to the rules of the road, motorists will be better able to anticipate your next move.

These are certainly not all of the poor choices that cyclists make, but they're common ones. Avoiding these nine will make it safer for everyone on the road. 


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