Monday, January 23, 2012

Be wary, there is a disturbance in the Force

I'm a cyclist. And not just any cyclist, I'm a roadie. What I do is dangerous. I know the risks of riding and I accept them every single time I swing my leg over the bike and clip in. There are potholes, gravel slicks, gutters filled with sand and glass... there are automobile drivers who aren't looking for someone on two wheels. Like most cyclists who've ridden for years, I've had my share of close calls.

I've swerved through snow, lost control going through sand, been buzzed by horn-honking teenagers, and nearly shoved into raised curbs by SUVs. But, I've never really worried about being attacked, mugged, or otherwise harmed intentionally. Perhaps I should re-think that after what happened to a young bike shop employee a few days ago. Woman Knocked Off Bike, Assaulted On Greenway

It isn't enough that we have to worry about all of the above, but we've got to worry about jerks who want to jack our stuff and hurt us, too?! So, for all of us who commute on two wheels, here are the things I do to keep myself as safe as possible:

Ride with presence. To ride in an urban setting, on the roads and on the trail, you have to have confidence. I don't mean ride stupid, but ride like you own the road, like you belong. Others will sense that confidence, even through a car's windscreen.
Be aware of your surroundings. I ride with lights in the mornings and evenings. I keep my head on a swivel at all times when I ride in or near traffic. Stay away from the iPod if you're riding in the city. If you know what's going on around you, you are better prepared to act.
Safety in light and numbers. As much as possible, ride while it's light out and ride with other people. The old saying is true, there really is safety in numbers.
Consider hornet spray. Mace isn't legal to carry in Minnesota, but hornet spray is. And man, is that stuff nasty to get sprayed in the face with.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

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