More Valley cyclists killed on the road

Our local news station reported that three cyclist were hit by a car trying to pass another vehicle. Two of the three were killed while the third clings to life at the hospital. You can read the news of it here.

This goes to show that the Valley is not immune to these types of events. Everyone that rides a bike needs to be aware of their surroundings at ALL times and not let your guard down. If you ride at night then being seen is essential, use your lights in front and in the back. They are a cheap, inexpensive way to make yourself visible to others.

I always ride with a mirror attached to my glasses and I feel uncomfortable if I start to ride without one. Sometimes when I ride at night I put on some reflector straps to my ankles in addition to the use of front and rear lights. While approaching an intersection I place my hands on the brakes and look at the drivers at the intersection. These are some of the things I do to mitigate the chances of getting into an accident, while I’m out riding my bike. Do I have lapses and forget to slowdown at intersections or forget to check the mirror, yes I do. But it is at those times that I remember that increased vigilance on my practices is called for. I wear my Road ID, but I hope I’m never get in a situation were it needs to be used.

Stay vigilant, stay safe, have fun riding.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

That is a classic quote from the old TV show, “Lost in Space”. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a robot follow you around warning you of danger? Unfortunately, that is not the case in these modern times. The only thing that is going to do that for you is either another cyclist or your brain and sometimes we don’t pay attention to either.

Bicycle accidents with vehicles happen everywhere and the Valley is no exception. Recently, there was another bicycling accident and thankfully, it was not a fatal one. Both were trying to execute left hand turns at the same time, but the cyclist had the right of way as there was no stop sign for the cyclist and there was one for the motorist. The cyclist came out with bruising, a wrecked bike and a traumatic experience. To make things worse, the motorist was not even cited by the officer despite admitting he was not paying attention at the intersection and started to make his turn without looking first.  Incredulous! I really do believe the officer for the City of Edinburg dropped the ball on this. How can he not issue the motorist a ticket? What does the officers action tell the community of Edinburg? Cyclist, you are second class citizens in the city sound about it.

While reading the discussion boards about the accident, many cyclists expressed an increased fear of riding or allowing their children to ride. That is understandable, but this statement stuck out and rang true with me:

We can not let fear rule our lives and detract from something we truly love, be it for any of the reasons you mentioned. We take the necessary precautions, like maximizing the use of bike lanes and bike shoulders during our rides and like riding in groups for added visibility. But we shall continue to ride!” Ramon Hermida

This bit of wisdom applies to all aspects of outdoor activity be it cycling, walking, running or what ever you choose. Danger lurks everywhere but you shouldn’t let it run your life. I for one have gotten a little complacent while riding. I ride defensively as a practice, but recently I have failed to make eye contact with the drivers, when going though intersections. This is something I have since corrected. As users of outdoor space, we need to be vigilant in our safety practices from danger whether it’s a robber, a distracted driver or yourself distracted because of an itch that you can’t reach. Pay attention to your surroundings!

Since I ride primarily alone, I take other precautions. I let others know that I’m out riding and I wear my Road ID wristband. If something were to happen to me and I’m unconscious, people on the scene can know some basic information about me and know whom to call. Others use their cell phones with a generic contacts such as Home, Sister or Brother. That’s a good idea but there is always the chance that the phone could be damaged and unusable, but there is nothing wrong with a multi-prong attack.

Maybe the day will come when we do have that robot following us to warn of impending danger, but until then don’t let complacency take over your riding philosophy and don’t let that itch distract you, be safe and enjoy your outdoor activity.

Wrong Side of the Road!

Last night I was needing to take a little longer route and mix things up a little. Riding to McAllen’s Archer Park seemed as a good place as any. Knowing this, there was only one road to take, Business 83 and it’s one shoulder. That meant riding over there on the should with traffic and coming back on the same shoulder against traffic at night.

There is a reason the law says that cyclist have to ride with traffic, it is extremely dangerous to do so otherwise. On my ride back home I started thinking of all the extra hazards to look out for that you wouldn’t normally blink an eye. While riding against traffic you have three more hazards to look out for at intersections:

  1. Vehicles traveling from left to right may want to make a right turn and run into you
  2. Vehicles coming towards you may want to make a right turn and cut in front of you
  3. Vehicles traveling in the same direction as you may want to turn left and broadside you

Out of the three listed above, the last one is the most dangerous as they may not see you as they make their turn and you would have to constantly look over your right shoulder to make sure no one has entered the left turning lane. Very dangerous situation.

I see people riding on the wrong side when there is a perfectly good shoulder on the other side of the road. I even had a family tell me that I’m riding on the wrong side of the road! I meant to catch up to them at the parking lot of the Hike n Bike trail in Mission, but they were gone.

 Talking to an older friend of mine, that rides his bike for commuting, says he rides on against traffic so he can see the cars coming at him and avoid being hit. Also, a cop told him that he needs to ride against traffic. Those are the two major reasons why people ride on the wrong side of the road. Greater education for the population and police officers is the key to solve this issue.

 In the mean time, if you have to ride against traffic, be alert and extra cautious when approaching intersections.

To learn more of the rules of the road in Texas, here are some links to browse: