June 20, 2012

Cyclist - Pedestrian Safety

In Arlington, Virginia, a cyclist struck an 80-year old woman walking on a multi-use path at 7:11 AM on June 11, 2012. The cyclist called out "on your left" and the woman turned around stepped to her left. The collision was struck head-on and she hit her head on the ground. She died later that day at 6:20 PM.

Obviously, this is unfortunate. For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase "on your left," cyclists yell this to people (slow cyclists/pedestrians/roller bladers/ etc.) to indicate that the cyclist will pass on the slower person's left.

The odd thing to me is that there have been no charges made against the cyclist. The cyclist community would be up in arms if a motorist hit a cyclist after honking to indicate passing. We, as the cycling community, need to go about things differently when passing someone on a bike trail/path.
  1. Say a complete sentence. "On your left" has no verb or subject. "I am passing" is implied but it should be stated. "I am passing on your left" would leave less ambiguity for any pedestrian.
  2. Use words instead of a bell. What in the world does *ding* *ding* mean? And again, if a motorist honked at you, you wouldn't automatically stop your cycling line to go to the right. As we tell young children, use your words.
  3. Give time for the statement to ring. This is a judgement call but you should try to yell about 3-5 seconds (when you're within earshot). That way it gives the person time to process.
  4. Coast when you're yelling. When you coast, the freehub/freewheel will make a ratcheting sound which gives the person additional warning that you are about to pass.
  5. This isn't the Tour de France. If you want to go as fast as cars, get on a road. If you want to be on a trail, be aware that people don't care that you're close to your personal best. Just chill and go with the flow.
And with that I'll get off my soap box. Be safe out there, people.

Cool radish slide whistle link of the day:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. As a runner on trails, really fast cyclists scare the shit out of me. One step to the left to avoid a puddle or something and I'm toast.


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