Riding Safely on the Road
The speed of riding a road bike is exhilarating. It is so convenient – you can simply ride out of your garage and head out to the road less traveled.
Just as with most things, one has to balance fun and adventure with safety. As an avid rider in the not so friendly roads of the Philippines, I would like to share my lessons on how to keep safe out there on the road.
First and foremost, let’s talk about mindset. On the road there are many bogeys (Urban Dictionary: enemy): cars, buses, jeeps, trucks, motorcycles, tricycles, people walking, people crossing, dogs and even other cyclists. Awareness and anticipation are the operative words. Not all of them will be alert, aware or even care about a cyclist riding up the road.
Many jeeps stop abruptly or just make that hard right out of nowhere. You can’t predict it but you can anticipate it. Pro tip: keep your eye on the front wheel. That will give you an idea if they will turn left or go straight.
The other principle to keep in mind is to be predictable as well as visible. Avoid wearing clothes that blend it too well with the surroundings. Also, ride in a way that those around you know where you are going and if you are approaching. This means having to shout out “Bike! Bike!” or perhaps have a bell.
2. Bring the Goods
3. Basic safety equipment
You’ve invested in that awesome wheelset or pro level components. Make sure you don’t scrimp the minimums that should provide safety at a high level: Helmet, gloves, sun glasses and blinkers. Also, be sure to check that your brakes are working and the nuts and bolts of your machine are all nice and tight.
UV rays literally damage the largest organ of your body: your skin. Protect it with arm warmers and sunblock. Stick to 30 SPF and above. After a long day of riding out (sunny or cloudy) it helps to drink a lot of water and vitamin C supplements to help the skin recover. Food with lycopene such as tomatoes and watermelon are great too at keeping the skin protected.
5. Make a sign
There are common hand signals that cyclists generally recognize to point to direction or hazards on the road. It is important that you use these to ensure cars or others know the direction you are headed.
Let someone you are close know where you are headed and the ETAs. If anything happens, you know that someone can follow up on how you are doing and do the necessary.
7. Stay in the middle
This is counterintuitive but it is safer to stay on the middle of the lane instead of the extreme right side of it. When a rider is on the side, cars, especially trucks and buses will “squeeze in" to overtake. That is when sideswipe and similar accidents happen the most. If you are on the middle, they will instead beep you (sometimes too much) but you avoid the side swipe situation.
Have a good one out there and stay safe!