Sharing the road with cars is my least favorite part of cycling. Whether it’s a quick ride across town in street clothes or a long ride in full kit, nine times out of ten I have some sort of incident involving a car. Usually a driver impedes my right of way due to distraction or inattention. Like most of us who spend a good amount of time in the saddle, I’ve learned that drivers seldom see cyclists. Although it’s easier said than done, I have learned to not take it personally.
Let’s face it, the road is dangerous
For whatever reason, people don’t seem to grasp the inherent dangers of driving. I would imagine it has something to do with the misconception that cars are a safe form of transportation. Late model cars are a bevy of modern safety systems, with plenty of airbags, sensors, and cameras, to protect the occupants of a vehicle. While this may give a driver a false sense of security as to their own safety, the reason these features have been integrated are the reality that driving in inherently dangerous.
With all of these modern safety features for drivers and passengers in mind, there is still little to protect those on the outside of a modern motor vehicle. A cyclist or pedestrian is naked to the dangers of someone speeding past in a chunk of multi-ton steel. So what can we do as cyclists to protect ourselves?
What can cyclists do?
Unfortunately, with the exception of increased rider visibility there are aren’t many steps we can actively take. Many cyclists ride with earbuds, and while I understand the temptation, it’s not a safe practice. I personally don’t as I feel it detracts from the ride experience. Being out on the bike and experiencing all aspects of the ride, including the sounds, is something I enjoy. So I guess my only advice is the same I’ve been bringing up time and again, daytime lights, high visibility clothing, and constant vigilance.
Insurance, the more you have the better
An inactive way we can protect ourselves is through insurance. I learned a long time ago that it’s much better to have too much insurance than not enough. Both Mike and myself have been hit by cars and have ended up with some major injuries. Mike was hospitalized and it was a long recovery for him to return to riding. While I avoided surgery and hospitalization, I had a long road back. While Mike had the maximum amount of insurance he could get, I was on the other side of the coin. That was when I learned the importance of having the proper insurance coverage.
I had little recourse to recoup lost wages, as my insurance was less than stellar. The person who hit me also had very little insurance, and while they were ultimately found at fault, I could only collect up to their policy maximum. Since then, I am the dream customer for my insurance company. Every time my policy renewal comes up, I’m sure that I have the most coverage I can possible buy. I hope I never have to use it, but considering the risk involved with cycling on public roads, it’s good to know I’m covered should an accident occur. Stay safe out there, and as always, keep the rubber side down.