Very good article. I am a cyclo commuter and have been since July of last year. I have learned a few things since I started.
1. Be courteous. Some drivers are going to be jerks, but most aren't. Most drivers are polite and give me plenty of room. Some offer encouragement tell me they like my helmet. (I wear Nutcase helmets, one watermelon and the other is a big yellow smiley face) Be polite in return. Treat them as you would like to be treated. There is nothing worse than a cyclo-jerk giving others a bad name. Remember, share the road applies to us as well.
2. Use your lights. At least one part of my commute, morning or evening, will be in low light or no light conditions. I have a NiteRider 600 headlight which is like having car headlight. I have actually had oncoming cars move over to the left since adding this light. I use two different tali lights. One is flashing and the other is on constantly. The flashing light is great for getting the attention of drivers. However, some drivers have depth perception issues with a flashing light, hence the additional tail light the is always on at night. Last, but not least, I have a pair of wheel lights from MonkeyLectric. The head and tail light are designed to allow a cyclist to be seen from the front and back. The wheel light allow a rider to be seen from the side. You can program them to use specific colors and patterns if you want. I have had a lot of positve comments from folks while riding at night. I have even had cars coming out of parking lots, stop just to see the light show.
3. Know your route and stick to it. When you travel the same route each day, the locations of potholes and traffic light light sequences get burned into memory. By taking the same route each day, drivers get used to seeing you on the road. They tend to take the same routes as well.
4. When the lane is too narrow for both bike and car at the same time, take the lane. As a general rule, if there are two lanes heading in the same direction, I will take the right lane as mine. I have had some close calls when a subcompact passes me while remaining in the lane and the one ton pickup with duallies tries the same thing. It is safe for you to make them change the lane to pass. If there is only one lane going each way, I will play it by ear. However, I will always lean towards my own safety.
5. Equipment. I ride a Long Haul Trucker with heavy duty Jandd front and rear racks. I have a trunk on the front rack with my pump, tube and tools. I carry a pair of Ortlieb waterproof roll top rear panniers. I chose the yellow color for maximum visibility. The trucker is rolling with 26" wheels and full fenders. I chose the 26" wheels because they tend to be a little stronger than 700c's. When I started this journey I was over 300 pounds. I am still a shade over 280 and will take all the wheel strength I can get. I have 9300 miles on the trucker and not a single broken spoke. I roll with Schwalbe Marathon tires. I have over 5000 miles on them with only 2 flats. When commuting, reliability is king.
I hope this helps. I am giving some thought to stickers for the panniers to encourage drivers to ride. My thought is, if the fat man can do it, anybody can. As the gas prices go up, I expect to see more riders on my route. I guess we will see.
Edited by: FATMANRIDING at: 3/19/2012 (20:14)
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