Is It Safe ?

Thats the most common question/fear I've heard from people when it comes to considering cycling in and around Bangalore.

[ Personally, I find it safe enough. 80% of road fatalities are those of pedestrians, yet the question rarely comes to mind whether we should avoid walking! Most often, one's either ahead of traffic or behind the lot thats gone past, so you need only a few moments of alertness and you're good. Way lesser risk, and stress. ]

Here's a few interesting viewpoints on safety:

Jayadeep talks about subjective safety, and the Insecurity Syndrome associated with cycling. Honestly, I have almost no incidents on a typical cycle trip, and at least one or two "braked too late" or "got a little closer than I'd have liked to" ones when do a similar ride on the motorbike. In a car, it still happens and its still unsafe - for someone else!

While on that, here's a beautifully articulated viewpoint from Rajat on the Bangalore Bikers group:
Ever since I started commuting by cycle, time and again I have pondered over the safety aspect of cycling when used as a means of transport. Even though the statistics point to a low accident rate, the danger of being hurt sometimes fatally is ever present. An increasing number of bikers and daily commuters will undoubtedly increase the probability that our community may very well have to deal with some really bad news sometime or the other. Each time out on the cycle we are aware of this undeniable fact and yet we ride unafraid, extra cautious maybe, but unafraid nevertheless. We ride our cycles not for lack of choice but because we want to and we choose to. It is my great pleasure to ride each time, either alone or with others, secure in the knowledge that in however small a way it may be I am making a difference in this fragile world of ours.
Somewhere, traffic's started becoming an arms race! No winners there. Just larger SUVs, more metal, road rage and a downward spiral. The humble cycle might yet break that loop.
More cycles -> fewer cars -> safer roads for all!
And honestly, the last 2-3 feet on Bangalore's roads are unclaimed and quite safe :)

Other tips:
  • Be V-I-S-I-B-L-E. The helmet helps. Reflective strips, lights at night.
  • Don't stick too close to the edge. Motorists apparently leave as much space from you as you leave from the edge!
  • Use your arms etc to "puff yourself up" and define a space around yourself clearly.
  • I sometimes stand on pedals to appear larger/slow down vehicles right behind.
  • Make sure all your actions are indicated in advance to people around. Visibly, and if needed, audibly.
  • Be polite. Make eye contact.
  • Yet, be assertive. You know how it is around here.
  • Before even a minor swing out from your lane/line, look over the shoulder. Practice this.
  • Flow with the traffic - especially when switching sides of the road etc.
  • Avoid making dumb mistakes yourself :)
  • Give right of way. Especially to pedestrians.
  • Have fun.

1 comment:

Jade said...

I think that the following can also be added tot the safety precautions: -

# Watch out for the Road rage Guy - more pertinent in the northern part of the country.

# Understand the way the people percieve traffic - especially the ones on the the cycles!

# Watchout for that car parked on the roadside - the drivers generally don't bother for the cyclist to pass before opening the doors.

# It is generally assumed that the cyclists' speed is pretty low - this is very bad perception!