quinta-feira, 29 de julho de 2010

Ten Secrets To Cycling With Traffic

Mercê das férias e do tempo quente o convite à deslocação em bicicleta é mais que óbvio.

No entanto circular no tráfego, não sendo uma missão impossível, obriga a um conjunto de procedimentos por forma a preservarmos a nossa integridade e termos uma deslocação agradável.

Neste site temos um conjunto de "dez mandamentos" ou, "segredos", se quisermos para melhor circular em ambiente urbano e que, a seguir, se transcrevem.

Algumas resultam do bom-senso e devem ser seguidas mesmo se não coincidam com o nosso obsoleto Código da Estrada.

Serious about urban cycling? Planet Green goes beyond the "helmet and lights" and lists ten secrets from experienced riders.

By Lloyd Alter | Wed Jul 28, 2010 16:28

Toronto, Canada has been seeing an explosion of urban cycling lately. The city is trying to adapt, but political gridlock has seen the addition of maybe inches of bikelanes each year, the main streets are full of streetcar tracks and the drivers are not used to sharing the road. Biking Toronto has prepared an interesting list of secrets that we will share, with a bit of commentary:

Drivers Don’t Want to Kill You

Sounds like an odd secret, but they have a point. "The vast majority of drivers don’t want to kill you… they just don’t understand you. As well, the very LAST thing 99.99% of drivers want to do is hurt someone."

So there is no point getting angry and screaming, it is all about sharing and understanding.

Ride in a Straight Line

This one is tough. Joe recommends:

Don’t ride in the gutters and then swing out into the road to avoid the drains. This throws drivers off-guard because they aren’t thinking about the drains and aren’t expecting you to do this. There’s a very good chance you’ll get honked at if you do this, because nothing scares a driver more than a cyclist swerving in front of their car....This also applies when there are a lot of parked cars… instead of swerving in towards the curb between parked cars before swerving back out again, keep riding in a straight line… it makes you more predictable to car drivers.
I always do what the lower sketch shows, deking in and out of the open space and let the cars pass. It seemed the appropriate thing to do but I see the point.

Play by the Rules

This one is even tougher. Joe writes:

You and your bike constitute “a vehicle” according to the Highway Traffic Act. This means that you have to abide to the same rules that drivers do. This means stopping at red lights, stopping for people at crosswalks, and not passing open streetcar doors....Why should they treat you like a vehicle with a right to the road if you don’t behave like one?
I notice that Joe conspicuously left out stop signs. In Toronto, stop signs are not a way of establishing who has right of way, their traditional role, but they are for speed control of cars, not bikes. If I am at a four way stop of two quiet residential streets I do not stop. I look, I check, but I think it is completely unrealistic to expect bikes to be treated like cars in such a situation. However when I wrote about this on TreeHugger in my post Should Cyclists be Allowed to Blow Through Stop Signs? I got 61 comments, mostly calling me a jerk.

Avoid the “Stoplight Squeeze”

When you get to the red before cars, swing out a little to the left (I usually stop about 1/3 of the way between the curb and the next lane), and lean over to the left, putting your left foot down. This forces drivers to stop behind you, and gives you “first dibs” when the light turns green.
But if you live in a community where cars are allowed to make a right turn on a red light, they will not be pleased.

Signal Sensibly

The signals we were taught make no sense; they were invented for cars when there were no brake lights or turn signals (or they were broken) and the driver could only use a left arm. Most have forgotten that an arm pointing up means a left turn or down means stopping. Joe recommends forgetting them and just pointing in the direction you are going. Makes sense.

Take That Lane

This is just what it sounds like. Taking your place in the middle of a lane because it’s unsafe at the edge of it. This is mostly done on streets where the traffic lanes are not very wide, so it’s not safe for you and a car to be side-by-side.
This one is tough. Yes, cyclists are legally vehicles and allowed to occupy a full lane, but try and tell that to a driver on a two lane, two way street. I do my best to avoid such streets; I may have the right to be there, but it is a scary place to be.

Make Them THINK You’re Unpredictable

This is a tip not many people know. If I’m in a stretch of road where drivers are passing too closely or I just want more room, I look over to my left or over my left shoulder. Sometimes I’ll be looking at a store, or someone on the sidewalk, or down a street, but most of the time I’m just looking left for the sake of looking left....If they think you may be coming left, they’ll give you more room. They don’t know you’re responsible and predictable and would signal before doing anything.
This is completely counterintuitive; I would have thought that our goal is to convince drivers that we are not all crazy. I think I disagree with Joe on this one.

Ride With Others

Studies have proven it; there is safety in numbers

"It's a virtuous cycle," says Dr Julie Hatfield, an injury expert from UNSW who addressed a cycling safety seminar in Sydney, Australia. "The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle."
Joe concludes:

This is also the concept behind Critical Mass. It’s easy for a driver in a car to bully one cyclist off the road, but stick a few (or more) cyclists on the road, and they take on the presence of a car… perhaps more than one car. There is strength in numbers.
Avoid the Right Hook

One of the most common places that car-bike collisions happen is at intersections, and more commonly, when a car is turning right.

I lost a rowing buddy this way. Cars, but especially buses and trucks, just can't see you and don't expect you when you are between their vehicle and the curb. Some cities are experimenting with bike boxes so that cyclists are out in front, but this is such a common way of getting killed. But not the most common; in our post, How To Get Killed On A Bicycle, I note that "Cyclists are in the right 70% of the time, but in the end they always lose."

And finally, Practice Your Route

The most important thing you can do to make yourself comfortable on the roads is to bike a lot. You’ll become more and more comfortable the more experience you have out there. The more you can get out and get experience on roads with cars, the better. Not only will you become more comfortable out there, but you’ll get to know the areas where cars/drivers behave in certain ways.

You will also get to know what roads have the least amount of traffic, that have the fastest traffic lights, that just seem to be the most bike-friendly. Toronto, like many North American cities, has a well-defined grid and a lot of choices for the riders. But after many years of biking I have my list of favourite routes that I know are the fastest and safest.

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