Cycling Reminders to Keep You and Other Cyclists Safe When on the Road Together

Recently, on the St. Pete Bike Club newsletter, there have been concerns about some riders’ group riding habits. Even our best riders can benefit from this review. The following is just an initial list of things a cyclist should never do when riding with a group. There are other “no no’s”, but these are a start:

  1. Never pass a slower group, or individual, on the road without announcing your presence. An “on your left” is appropriate to notify others of your approach. And leave a bit of space between you and the passee.
  2. Never pull up behind another rider to draft without letting them know you are there. Some riders are not good at group riding, and may think ill of you entering their space without permission.
  3. Never check your phone while riding or, for that matter, your play list. It goes without saying not to text while riding either, especially when in a group.
  4. Earbuds in both ears: DON’T DO IT! This behavior ranks right up there with running red lights as extremely dangerous. You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you; if you must, use only one ear. (Read more in this article.)
  5. Always use your gears when stopping in a group. If you stay in a big gear, you impact everyone behind you when you restart.
  6. Consider using both front and rear lights, day or night. During daytime, riding to the far right side of the road, where we are required to ride, sometimes makes us all but invisible to approaching vehicles. Lights on, especially in strobe setting, can make the difference between a ride on the bike and an emergency transport to the nearest hospital.
  7. Finally, check your auto insurance policy to make sure you carry uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage. Your auto insurance covers you while on your bike if struck by a vehicle, and, especially if it turns out to be a hit and run, that coverage will be the only liability coverage you can look to for your injuries. It also provides coverage if the at-fault driver has insufficient liability coverage for your injuries. Get the highest limit you can afford; this protects you, not the other guy.

As always, be safe out there.

Earbuds: Leave Them at Home for Your Safety, But, If You Insist…

There are numerous articles flying around about earbud use by cyclists; I’m noticing more and more cyclists using them on the roads. Let me first state, I am categorically against the use of anything that might distract you in any way from the dangers presented by motorists and other cyclists. We need 100% of our faculties to avoid an injury, or worse. Wearing my attorney hat for a moment, any defense attorney will relish attacking you as a cycling victim of a car, based on your having earbuds. Even the safest earbuds won’t be understood by a jury.

Let me first confirm that in Florida, it is illegal to wear earbuds in both ears. So at the very least, you should never have more than one in your ears, never two.

When passing a cyclist with earbuds in both ears, give an extra wide berth to make the pass. Even yelling “on your left” is not likely to be heard; same goes with approaching a pedestrian.

I’m aware of bone conduction headphones, and aware of the argument they may be much safer, because they rest on the bone outside and to the side of your ear, not within your ear. It is my opinion that until the Florida Legislature addresses this type, it will still be illegal to use them in both ears.

We already know of friends, sometimes loved ones, severely injured by motor vehicles: why would you not want every opportunity to hear what’s going on around you? And even when riding on a trail, you still make it less likely to hear another cyclist coming. Just common sense, folks. None of us wants to be a statistic. Tuning out your senses by tuning in music while on your bike is asking for trouble.

If you insist on using some form of earbud, check out the Bluetooth wireless bone conduction headphones on the market. At least this design doesn’t block sound from entering your ear; although, it will still dilute it to the point of adding another level of danger to your riding.

Finally, when on a group ride, please, please remove them so you can hear others, and others can talk to you. It’s about safety first. Not just your safety, but the safety of everyone around you. Be safe out there.