Riding safely in a group

If you haven't ridden on a CIBA ride before, be sure to introduce yourself to the ride leader and ask them any questions you might have before the ride starts. You may also request a mentor to ride with you for the short, medium, or long weekend rides. Helmets are highly recommended. Obey all traffic laws. Be courteous to motorists and to each other at all times. Don't swarm around cars at intersections. When passing always pass on the left and let other riders know you are there by calling out "on your left.". Always be predictable when you ride and never do anything that might surprise those around you. Remember that your actions on a ride are like a ripple in a pond and affect everyone around you. Experienced riders should always set a good riding example. They should welcome new riders, mentor them, and offer polite and constructive criticism when necessary. Riders who are new to the ride should "sit in”, watch and learn. Ride captains, more experienced riders familiar with the route and ride etiquette, may be designated by the ride leaders. If you have a skill weakness or cycling etiquette question, ask the ride leaders or road captains for advice. Be prepared to accept constructive criticism. It is not intended personally. Remember that one person's mistake affects the safety and well being of everyone on the ride. If you have aero bars on your bike, do not use the aero bars while riding in the group. Ride at the back of the group if you want to ride in the aero position. Pay attention to how comfortable your fellow riders are in the group and give less experienced riders more room. If you have been dropped or you are struggling to stay with the group, don't use traffic signals or stop signs to go to the front of the group. Stay off the front if you are not able to ride within your limits. The effort is 30% greater at the front from wind resistance. If you are at your physical limit and are being dropped, know how to exit the pack and drop back safely. If two-abreast is the ride formation, pat your left or right buttock to signal your intent to "bail out" to make your way to the back of the pack. Rider communication is very important on all group rides. Call out obstacles and holes ("hole right"), car locations ("car up” or “car back"). Use hand signals and call out turns. Earphones, cell phones, or any other devices that distract a rider from paying complete attention to the ride and that tends to prevent communication with other riders is strongly discouraged. If you see that a traffic signal is going to turn red (soft-green), do not accelerate to get through because the group following may be tempted to go through on red and into the path of oncoming cars. Riders in the middle of the pack must use good judgment and plan for a controlled stop rather than a panic stop when they see a traffic signal changing. These are RIDES and not races. Racing is inherently risky and dangerous and is conducted under controlled circumstances. Racers assume those risks when they pay their fee and pin on their number. We do not take risks on these rides and dangerous or unsafe riding will not be tolerated. Please ride responsibly.

The best two methods for acquiring safe riding skills are; to ride with experienced, responsible cyclists who are happy to mentor you at speeds and distances that you are comfortable with and to participate in bicycle traffic safety courses from CyclingSavvy or The League of American Bicyclists.

Types of Crashes

There are two types of bike/car crashes that are more common than any others:

  • The left-hook, where a vehicle turns left directly into the path of a cyclist going the opposite direction. In this situation, the motorist often never even sees the cyclist until it's too late.
  • The right hook, where a vehicle passes a cyclist who's riding in the bike lane or rightmost lane of traffic, going the same direction, then immediately makes a right turn directly into the cyclist's path.

Many collisions occur at intersections, but other situations pop up, such as vehicle doors opening into a cyclist's path, or rear-ending situations. Whatever the case and however severe, they should be treated in a specific manner.

On the Scene

So what do you do if you're involved with a crash with a motor vehicle? If you're healthy enough to walk away from the crash site, that doesn't mean you should consider that the only victory you need. Instead, take these steps to make sure you're as protected as you can be.

No matter how mild you think it might be, It is good advice to call the police in the event of an accident. If a police report is filed based on information gathered at the scene, the story can't change later on if you need to submit an insurance claim.

In addition, it's important that you obtain the vehicle driver's insurance information, address, phone number and license plate number. If there are witnesses on the scene, get their names and phone numbers, as well. Remain calm and collected. Do not exchange angry words or threats.

As with vehicle-on-vehicle crashes, don't admit fault, and don't minimize your injuries or your bike damage. There's no reason to.

The reason you exchange information is to protect yourself. Always get the police involved. Incidents may seem as though everything is great at the scene, but then the story changes once everybody goes home or the issue has to go to court.

                                                      Getting Checked Out

 A cyclist colliding with a vehicle can be of a significant impact, but your adrenaline at the scene could mask any physical pain you're in. Don't be afraid to take a visit to the emergency room if something doesn't feel right. A lot of times, you're not thinking clearly after an accident. You're hit, and it's Wow, I'm glad to be alive.  Then it doesn't hit you for a couple of hours that you have a broken wrist or other injuries. It is best to preserve all your information up front.

Recovering Your Losses

Your physical injuries are one thing, and your personal losses are another. If the motorist is at fault, their auto liability insurance or a home owners policy might cover the damage to your bike . If your bike has been in a crash, take it to a reputable bike shop and get it thoroughly inspected. You might not recognize damage until days later. If the bike and all damaged accessories constitute a total loss a bike shop can put this in writing after an inspection if they determine the bike is unsafe to ride. This makes a strong statement to present to an insurance company. Keep in mind, though, that this doesn't mean you're getting a shiny new bike. Insurance companies are only required to give you market value, and if your bike is five years old, don't expect to get enough money to buy one that's five years newer. Also realize that insurance claims adjusters typically aren't as knowledgeable about bikes as you are. So when you file a claim for your damaged bike, make sure you have more than enough information to get fair value for it. You may have to educate your adjuster on how much your bike is really worth. On-line sites like eBay  can give you an idea of how much your bike would sell for in the open market. 

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