There are a few things that concern me about this cross country ride. Will I be able to handle the climb through the mountains? There’s a 90 mile stretch through the desert, where there is no water and not even a gas station! Will anyone get involved in mentoring? However, the biggest concern is simply, am I going to get hit by some careless or antagonistic motorist? “The road can be dangerous. More than 40,000 cyclists are struck by cars, and more than 700 are killed each year.” I was reading the NPR site and saw this article about cyclists using cameras as a safety measure [www.npr.org/2016/03/12/470194205/cyclists-strap-on-cameras-to-protect-themselves] .
It was an interesting article, but I have no illusions that wearing a camera will keep me safe. I wear a rear view mirror. I used to have one attached to my helmet and now have one clipped on my sunglasses. It allows me to keep an eye on vehicles coming up from behind. The visual preview causes me to shift my hands closer to the brakes, do a quick check for upcoming pot holes, width of the shoulder, oncoming traffic, and finally a check on how the person coming from behind is going to handle me. Are they slowing down? Are they maneuvering to give me a little extra space? Are they simply accelerating and going to cut it close?
If there is no oncoming traffic and the person behind me seems unsure of safely passing, I will actually wave them around me. I often wonder if they are surprised by my friendly hand signal. My mirror is pretty small and is not obvious to the most casual observer, so they might be surprised that I saw them. I appreciate a motorist that is concerned for my safety and try to reciprocate the gesture by making it easier for them to pass me safely. If the road widens, I give them the extra space to get around me. I try to make my intentions known by signaling turns. I also will occasionally move to the middle of a lane to insure they don’t try to pass me in an unsafe manner. Usually this occurs while approaching a single lane roundabout or dedicated turn lanes. Dedicated turn lanes are an opportunity to act more like a vehicle and take my space in line with a well telegraphed left or right turn arm signal. Even though I have had some close encounters of the wrong kind, it has helped keep me alive so far.
The Lone Rider