Sunday, December 02, 2018

Eleven years later and cars still are closer to bicyclists

Back in 2007, I posted a study that showed that drivers give bicyclists less room if they wear a helmet. Well, Bicycling Magazine just published an article with a link to an updated version. Bottom line?
The new paper from Walker also re-affirms that wearing a helmet was indeed associated with more “close” passes when you take into consideration that in some places, the law dictates more than one meter of room.
And a month ago they posted about "helmet scolds":
If you’ve ever ridden a bike without a helmet, you’ve likely run into helmet scolds. They’ll tell you at length why you should never ride without one, about the risks and dangers. Don’t you know cycling is perilous, even for seasoned riders? They’ll come armed with statistics and tell you about that one time they crashed unexpectedly while pedaling around the block.
Indeed. I've run into that many times over the last eleven years after ditching the helmet. So, what do I do? Well, I still don't use a helmet, although the newer designs have done a good bit to work on the problems of concussion (see my 2007 link). If they continue to make progress there, I might reconsider. One thing is certain: drivers now are more distracted. Despite laws against texting while driving, I still regularly see drivers doing so as we walk.

Because of that, I'm trying to do things to raise my visibility. I wear a fluorescent yellow jersey. When it's cold enough to wear a jacket, I usually wear my yellow one. Also, since moving to Red Wing, I have added a new strobe tail light that I use, even during the day; I seem to be getting more clearance when I have it—contrary to this post from 2015. But, it's a different culture here than on the North Shore, more traffic and more used to bicycles in general.

I have no delusions, though, that I will be seen. I'm always watching and expecting cars to either not see me, or try to run me off the road. Someone trying to run me off the road has actually only happened once in the last 15 years, by a couple of guys driving a pick-up truck, trying to prove they were "real men." On the whole, drivers have always given me enough room when they see me. My goal is to make sure they see me while also watching them assuming they don't!

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