Staying Visible While Cycling

By Rachel Gaffney,

 Cycling is one of the healthiest ways to get from A to B, but unfortunately it’s sometimes impossible to avoid motorists during your daily commute. One of the best ways to avoid any incidents with motorists is to stay visible at all hours of day. Here are some top ways you can increase your visibility and ensure everyone on the road sees you.

 1. Dress Accordingly

 You don’t have to string a bunch of Christmas tree lights to your bicycle, but it’s also not a great idea to dress all in black either. You can adjust your attire depending on what time of day you’re going for a ride. In the daylight, florescent colors are most important. Think bright green, yellow, and orange here. At night it doesn’t really matter what you wear because nobody can see you anyway. What’s more important is wearing something reflective so you’ll stand out against a car’s headlights.

 2. Don’t Pass on the Right!

 While it’s very tempting to creep alongside a bunch of idling cars and get to the head of the line, it’s usually safest to just wait directly between cars at an intersection. When you pass on the right you set yourself for the right hook, one of the most dangerous crash scenarios for cyclists. If you really want to get to the head of the pack, consider passing a car or two on the left. You’ll run the risk of getting stuck between two lines of traffic of course, so pay attention to the lights and be prepared to immediately merge into your lane!

 3. Ride Loud in Proud in the Center

 You’ll usually want to stay to the right-hand side of the road if there’s a wide shoulder or bike lane, but what if the bike lane is obstructed or there’s parked cars next to the shoulder (setting you up for getting doored)? You’re never obligated to ride in a bicycle lane if it’s not safe to do so, and if you’re as fast as other cars it’s much safer to ride smack in the middle of the lane.

This makes it easier for oncoming and approaching traffic to see you, but it also prevents motorists from unsafely attempting to pass you in a single lane. As far as preventing any door crashes, a good rule of thumb to follow is if you can reach out and touch a car’s side mirror, you’re too close.  

4. Buy a Better Bell

 This isn’t necessarily about staying visible, but if you cycle in an area with a lot of pedestrians you’ll likely run into situations where they tend to cross in front of you. Pedestrians often look for just cars, and if they don’t see any they could step directly in your path. A loud bell does wonders for alerting pedestrians to your approach. BikePacking wrote a great article on the pros and cons of some of the most popular bells available today.

 While some of these tips are inconvenient, they’ll go a long way in helping you stay safe on the road!

 

This article was created by www.personalinjury-law.com, an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally.

 

Bike Hack: Crossing the Bronx-Whitestone and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges by Bike

Getting between the various NYC Boroughs can be enormously frustrating if you are traveling by bicycle, thanks to bridges that were only designed for cars.  While most of the bridges owned and maintained by NYC DOT have now been retrofitted with bike lanes or sidewalks, MTA-controlled bridges are another story.

Unfortunately for cyclists, MTA bridges are the only link for people traveling between Queens and the Bronx, or between Brooklyn and Staten Island.  Ever since the sidewalks were removed from the Bronx-Whitestone bridge in 1943, cyclists have been out of luck, forced to detour to the Triborough Bridge.  The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge never even had a sidewalk in the first place, meaning that you could never ride a bike between Brooklyn and Staten Island (except for the one day a year when they do the 5-boro bike tour). You’d have to ride into Manhattan first, then take the ferry with your bike.

Forcing cyclists to take such long detours is beyond ridiculous in today’s world, where cycling is more popular than ever. Thankfully, the MTA has finally understood this and has implemented a bike rack program for local buses that go across both the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, to help cyclists use bridges that should have been open to them in the first place.

Unlike virtually every other public bus system in America, New York City Transit has never had bicycle racks on any of their buses. This new policy changes this – finally! – at least for 4 bus routes, 3 of which cross bridges.  You can read all about the new bike rack service here: http://www.mta.info/press-release/nyc-transit/mta-running-bus-routes-new-bike-racks-summer

And if you are unsure of how to use a bus bike rack, there is a dull instructional video you can link to from the MTA’s press release.  Or, for a more entertaining tutorial, click here!

Bike Hack: The Little Green Signs

A “little green sign” for Route 23

Source: By Fwgoebel – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10054106

Have you ever been driving (or biking) along somewhere in New York State and wondered about the little green signs that you keep seeing over and over on the side of the road? These little signs are actually reference markers put up by the NYS Department of Transportation after the Highway Safety Act of 1966 required that “each state shall have a highway safety program….(that) shall include, but not be limited to, provisions for….surveillance of traffic for detection and correction of high or potentially high accident locations”.

In short, in a pre-computer and pre-GPS world, each state needed to figure out their own way to reference every segment of state-owned roadway for traffic, maintenance and crash reporting purposes.

And, of course, New York State being what it is, came up with an ingeniously confusing, complicated, yet workable solution, which culminated in these little green signs that show an almost nonsensical jumble of numbers and letters.

But these signs are a great resource if you are ever lost on your bike and you need to figure out what road you are on. The top row of these signs is (almost) always the route number for the state road on which you are traveling. So in the absence of other signage, these little green markers can at least help you figure out what road you are on. On most 2 lane roads, they are every 0.2 mile, so you don’t have to bike far to figure it out. If you are riding on a 4-lane road, you’ll see them every 0.1 mile.

If you are interested in the real nitty-gritty about how these little green signs work, check out the NYSDOT Reference Marker Manual. It’s fascinating. It will make you appreciate the lengths that people had to go to to code highway segments before computers and GPS could just assign everything a coordinate.

And keep in mind, you will only see these signs in New York State. Other states have their own signs, which may or may not make sense.