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RWBTC is a recreational bicycling club devoted to the promotion of friendly cycling in the Redlands, CA area.

We cater to riders of all levels and abilities.

Riding techique

Ride Safety
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Dave makes a point that we should, but do not discuss accidents. Discussing accidents, near misses, etc. is a tool we use a lot at work to raise awareness and decrease chances of future accidents. It might be an idea to incorporate that in our meetings, or as a forum here, or at least in the newsletter.
Thank you for your writing Andrew. This discussion I find interesting. I unfortunately missed the meeting on Feb 6. I would have really like to hear about the "Ride Savvy"

I have read a few articles concerning ride safety, and sometimes find conflicting information in them. But even if there is discussion and people offer their opinion, which maybe contrary to conventional wisdom or even bad advice, the discussion makes people more conscious of the issues.

Example. Many sources say that riding on Narrow roads a Cyclist should ride in a manner to take up the whole lane. The logic being, you don't get squeezed off the road by someone trying to pass you. On the other hand, if you do not see them they may end up following you for a long distance before you pull over to let them by, this builds up frustration, Road Rage Risk, nasty letters to the newspapers about inconsiderate cyclists, and eventually laws limiting bicycles to bike paths. Maybe an extreme jump but sometimes I do think we can be our own worst enemy.

One thing I have noticed is that often motorists do not feel comfortable around bicycles, They don't want to crowd, appear impatient, they don't want to be one of those "Angry" motorist. As a result, they are hesitant, unsure, and a different type of danger. Example four way stop. You ride up to the stop sign and stop , and unclip, and put your foot down because you are waiting for the car that stopped at the cross direction stop sign before you got to the stop sign. So you wait. Meanwhile they wait for you even though they have clear right of way. Then You notice that the driver is sitting there with the sun reflecting off the windshield such that you cannot see him waiving you through the stop sign. The car behind you is upset, because you are in the middle of the lane stopping him, not caring that you need to keep the right side open for people whether in cars or on bicycles to turn right.

In the end, the cyclist is always wrong. If you go through that stop sign, you are not giving proper right of way. If you yield the right of way you are holding up traffic. If move to the right, you are blocking the right turn lane, if you enter the intersection and get hit by a car in the cross direction, you are injured, regardless who had the right of way.
Thanks Mark. I misquoted and should have credited you with the safety officer suggestion.
Great read Dave S.!!! I agree with you... I hope to see you on some club rides this year, you have been missed!!


In a recent Facebook post, Don Garcia posed the question of if a safety officer was needed for the club. Mark Friis commented he believed RWBTC has more accidents than any club he's aware of. I'm not sure if that is true or not but it raises an important question. The question is, is it true? It is good practice for an organization to formally study and monitor itself and the intelligent ones do. For whatever reason, we seem to have not evolved in this area yet in spite of an obviously traumatic few years for many of us. For me this awareness started when I crashed two years ago, January 5, 2015. I had just been installed as treasurer of the club and a month later had a trauma to my brain, broken left arm, and severely sprained left wrist and shoulder. I managed to learn how to do the books and I'm confident in the accuracy therein but to be honest, it was not an easy thing. We shake things off and get back in the saddle right? Noooo. I don't think so. If there is anything RWBTC as an organization should be formally addressing now it's safety. We have two club members who were killed on their bikes this past year. It seems every few weeks someone has crashed and been injured on a club ride or otherwise. I personally cut back on my club rides and all Saturday rides because I was afraid of getting injured again. I just didn't trust it would not happen. I missed nearly two months of work after my crash and the concussion made it hard for me to focus and organize for about six months. We all know Randy Stephenson and how he died. It was no fault of the club or his own but many may not know he crashed several months before that by hitting a parked car when the door opened in front of him. Bike crash statistics tell us hitting a car door opening into your path is one of the most deadly crashes you can experience because it can throw you into traffic often times resulting in being run over. You should always allow space for that door to open. I only knew it because I read an article on it and modified my riding as a result. Randy was not himself for a period of time after that and I knew it because I could tell when he talked to me and I recognized the subtle temporary changes and connected the dots from my own experience. He eventually seemed his old self again but then the unthinkable happened. Duane Darling was killed riding solo on a road with a narrow shoulder at near dark. Again it was due to no fault of his own as far as we know but still I wonder why we don't address these accidents, get some data, look at the patterns, and teach our club about safety. When I joined the club it was because I knew Lynn Pletcher who we know was hit and killed 5 years ago. I knew Lynn from working with him for many years in the school district. He was a smart man, enormously respected, a fit guy, a safe rider, a dedicated community servant, and by all accounts not someone who should have died on his bike. RWBTC is a great organization we have all benefited from. Don Quering has done a remarkable job building up membership, the club's standing in the community, programs, rides, and making being a member an enjoyable experience. It's time to build on that and make it the club that takes safety very serious and devotes itself to it in a formal way.
Great post Andrew! I think we need to work a bit harder as a club to insulate a culture of safety as much as one of fitness and friendship - given the number of accidents the past year it would seem that 2017 would be a good year to get the ball rolling...
Thank you Andrew for bringing this up!!

It seems to me that most of the accidents this year in the club have been just that - accidents. I have not really heard of any that would have been prevented with hand signals or calling-out or any of the usual group riding rules, except perhaps for "Pay attention to yourself". It seems like most accidents on the bike happen toward the end of rides when fatigue and loss of focus set in. It is in the cyclist's best interest to be aware of that and allow a little more distance between riders and obstacles on the road.

The one pet-peeve that I have had this year is seeing club members riding two- and three-across when they should not be. While it is acceptable - and legal - to ride two-across when the bike lane is wide enough to do so, or a narrow road lane necessitates taking the full lane, it is NOT okay to ride outside of the marked bike lane and in the traffic lane. CVC 21208 - Use the bicycle lane. "On a roadway with a bike lane, bicyclists traveling slower than traffic must use the bike lane except when making a left turn, passing, avoiding hazardous conditions, or approaching a place where a right turn is authorized." That means you should not be riding in the traffic lane when there is a marked bike lane.

One other hazard I have noticed more and more is riders who are in the traffic lane NOT responding to calls of "Car Back". That call-out means that all riders should be aware overtaking vehicles and move to a safe location, not ride along oblivious to the danger and blocking cars.
OK, so first off I'm not going to claim to be the perfect rider, but after 2 falls and trips to hospital on the last 2 century training rides I feel that I have to say something. I have had comments about safety several times recently, not just the last 2 weeks and I feel the need to start a thread on this subject. Please feel free to pitch in, say I'm right, wrong, just let's get the conversation moving.
We used to have a page for Rules of the Road in the old website, this information is still available in the documents section, click here to view these. I'm not sure if all the references to the California Vehicle Code are still correct, but there is good information here. Going beyond this here are a few things I think that we could do better on:

  1. Car back. This means get out of the way. Riding in the middle of the road while this is being yelled at you from behind is not what is intended. Whilst it can be difficult to get back in line please move over to the right at least and make an effort to get in line.

  2. Slowing or Stopping. Please announce when you start to slow or stop. If you have an emergency (bee in the helmet or something) announce stopping before hitting the brakes and move over to the right as far as possible as soon as you have stopped. If you are in a line then announce slowing as soon as you stop pedaling as this will cause an accordian effect and announcing this will help those behind avoid a collision.

  3. Hole, Glass, Debris, etc. If you are at the front please announce these. If you are in the line please pass this information back. Pointing might be best, but if you cannot take you hands off the handlebars, say something.

  4. On your left. Please announce as before you pass. Avoid passing on the right; we have mirrors on our left and the right hand side is a huge blindspot. You could easily startle someone as you pass them like this, especially if there is not much space. If you must do this then you also must announce your presence.

  5. Clear. When you are making an announcement about an intersection, please consider that the message that you are giving is for those behind. If you are trying to tell the person in front please consider that they have a better view of the intersection and thus they know better than you. I try to only say clear when I am in or about to be in the middle of the intersection. If you are trying to tell the person in front to move it you could be endangering the person behind you.

  6. Red lights. Don't run them, it's not worth it.

  7. Pace lining. If you are in a line try to position yourself slightly to one side of the person in front and look around them, don't just sit 6 inches from their wheel staring at it. Be ready to pull to the one side if the person in front slows suddenly.

  8. Pay attention to yourself. We all get tired towards the end of the ride, but mistakes can be made so easily at this point so try to identify if you are getting tired and be extra careful.
This post isn't intended to call out any one person or incident, but I feel that as a group we have perhaps become too confident and could do better. There is a group that I have been riding with twice a week for nearly six years now and I will admit that when I ride with this group I more confident and relax these rules somewhat, but I have to remember not to bring that confidence to a group I don't know so well. I'm sure that I have also been guilty of breaking all of these rules at some point, but that is not the point. We can all do better.
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