Last year, I got a new bicycle and started commuting to work on it. Yesterday, I hit 4000 km, just shy of the 1 year mark. I cycle about 2-3 times a week, 20km each way. It takes about 1hr 15mins, through Park Connectors, some pavements, and as little road as possible.
I love this particular way of commuting to work – no traffic jams, no human jams, 1 hour of me time. I can cycle fast to get a good workout, or slowly to take in the scenery. I love cycling, and it never fails to get me into a good mood by the time I end.
However, as I cycled back last night, it was with a heavy heart. I can’t help thinking about the most recent death on the road. Just 2 days ago, two little boys cycling home were killed immediately after being hit by a cement truck.
Actually, the fact that an accident happened is not so surprising. What really hit me hard was that these are two young boys, who probably died because they did not understand the dangers on the road. As I cycle everyday, I see many, many risky behaviours and quite a few near misses. Faults comes from both sides, inconsiderate cyclists and drivers alike. The past year of cycling has really taught me a lot, things that this two young boys will never have a chance to learn. Oh well, maybe putting it down here will help someone else.
Riding across junctions
The main danger about riding across junctions, is that drivers are not prepared for the higher speed of cyclists compared to pedestrians.
An example – have you ever seen cars turning left/right across pedestrian crossings, while the green man is on and there are people still crossing from the far side of the road? In Singapore, drivers do that. They anticipate the time taken by a pedestrian to cross, and use that to gauge whether they need to give way. If you are riding across the road, you will pass the lead pedestrian and reach the turning car much faster. And most probably give the driver a shock. Or cause an accident, if he is not prepared to give way.
In addition, there are all sorts of blind spots that you can be in, which is probably what happened to the two little boys. I have driven big Class 4 vehicles before, and I can tell you that the blind spots on those vehicles are pretty large.
So what should you do? Most important of all, is to LOOK. Look for vehicles, and anticipate accordingly. If there are turning cars, slow down to pedestrian speed. Look at them slow/stop, then cross before them. And get ready to brake if they don’t stop.
LOOK for vehicles that are in a position to hit you. If you don’t give them a chance to hit you, they never will.
Riding across zebra crossings
The main danger with this is (again) the speed of the cyclist. The distance from pavement to zebra crossing is barely 1 metre at some places, which a cyclist can cover in less then 1 second. So one second the driver is not seeing anyone at the junction, the next moment a cyclist has swerve out onto the zebra crossing. There are many, many forum posts from irritated drivers about cyclist suddenly appearing out of “nowhere”. Folks, this is not Harry Potter. The driver was not looking at the correct place, as he is used to pedestrian traffic.
As a cyclist, slow down to pedestrian speed. Watch out and make eye contact with drivers. You can also signal your intention by holding out your hand.. And as always, get ready to brake.
Cycling against traffic
Don’t be crazy. Enough said.
Cycling on road
Cycle on the left, but out of the yellow lines. The yellow lines have lots of debris, drain covers, cracks and holes that can throw you off easily.
Take the lane, if you are approaching a pinch point or at merging lanes. It is far better to get horned at for delaying a driver 2 seconds, then to become a permanent statistic because some idiot misjudged the distance needed to pass you safely.
Signal with your hands. It helps ALOT in telling drivers your intentions.
Cycling on road, at junctions
Most traffic accidents happens at junctions because of turning vehicles. NEVER, EVER, EVER go to the left of any turning vehicles, especially large trucks and long vehicles. Like I say, their blind spots are pretty large. In addition, their turning radius is HUGE – this means that the back wheel of the turning vehicle will cut much closer to the kerb then the front. If you overtake them on the left, you WILL get trapped and then pancaked by the back wheels.
Cycling on road, at slip roads
In my opinion, slip roads are the most dangerous. Drivers coming out from slip road can misjudge your speed, causing a collision. Even worse, they can see you, but not register. I have so, so many near misses with vehicles coming out of slip roads. I’m pretty sure not all of them meant to cut me off, but their mistake could be my death.
If you see a vehicle approaching you on the slip road, decrease your speed to NOT ALLOW him to hit you. Brake if necessary.
TL;DR: Do not let vehicles have a chance to hit you. Cycle like you are invisible. There is no right-of-way, only life, and death.