Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Where Do You Feel Safest Cycling?

Safety is of particular interest to me. I'm typically a solo rider thanks to an ever-chaning work schedule. Since I often work weekends, group rides are out. Although I take a cell phone, I live alone. So whom would I call in the event of an emergency? I do take all possible precautions. I ride with all my necessary equipment and know how to perform just about all basic bicycle repair. I never ride my bike at night. Nothing about riding at night seems particularly compelling to me. Cycling is unique in that cyclists actually share the road directly with drivers. There is no separation provided by a sidewalk. For this reason, many cyclists seek out deserted roads that receive little to no competing traffic. Should the worst case scenario happen such as mechanical failure, health issue, or serious fall, how safe is a deserted road?

On my night time run, a thought crossed my mind about cycling safety. While running, I often venture onto empty and deserted streets with little fear during the day. At night, I restrict my running to well lit but busy streets. Besides the protection of light, my thought is if a careless driver takes me out, I'm more likely to receive aid and some witnesses on a busy street. Obviously there is a point of diminishing returns where a street becomes so busy that it's dangerous. However, a consistent stream of cars at night adds a level of comfort during my night time runs.

I have two "home" routes I typically ride. The first is a simple two lane ranch road without a shoulder that dead ends after 4 miles. The second is a farm road that varies from a two to four lane highway with a wide shoulder that goes on for as long as you can ride. The shoulder-less ranch road is typically deserted. A car might pass by once an hour if you're lucky. The highway is busy enough that cars pass by frequently. I'll typically see one every ten minutes or so. The wide shoulder provides a safe buffer against vehicles that can reach 80 mph, and there are plenty of law enforcement officers passing by.

The ranch road is short enough that even if I'm at my furthest point, I'm only 4 miles away from my car. So even in the worst case scenario I can walk (or limp) back home. The highway has enough traffic that should I need help, I feel like it's just a matter of time before a good samaritan (hopefully) stumbles upon me. All things considered, I feel my usual two routes are very safe, and they've bolstered my confidence riding and dealing with traffic. Where do you feel safest riding? A deserted road? A busier one? What do you do to keep cycling safe?

No comments:

Post a Comment