Check out this great article from The New York Times, and then read below on how I take bike safety a step further.
This is a very important article; every cyclist and driver should read it. I fully support his recommendations. Every cyclist should heed the last paragraph. Each time you get on a bike obey every single traffic rule. Even further, I have an additional philosophy.
I believe in the ‘make them love you’ strategy. When you talk to drivers who don’t ride, their frustration is clear. We are an annoyance, we’re in their way, we’re arrogant and a damned nuisance. They really hate group rides with cyclists three abreast in a long line, forcing them to follow along at 15 mph until they get a long enough straightaway to pass. These are valid complaints which I try to address on my rides.
My whole strategy is to make the driver see me as a friendly, helpful human being instead of an anonymous pain-in-the-butt road hazard.
When there is no traffic coming, my buddy and I ride side by side. But when we see a vehicle in the mirror we call out ‘car back’ and ride in single file; one element of how we practice bike safety. When the driver slows up behind us because of a blind corner or hill crest, the second we see the road ahead is clear we wave them by. We give them a great big ‘come on by’ wave with the left arm, and give them a salute and call out “Thank You,” when they pass. You’ll be amazed how often you get a return wave. You’re no longer an anonymous rider; this simple act has transferred you into a courteous, helpful, friendly human being.
Help the driver get safely by you and acknowledge your thanks for their consideration in slowing down behind you. We all know you have every right to be on the road and all that. But it’s a weak argument when you make it from a hospital bed. Be courteous to every driver and always acknowledge their return courtesy. Become a friendly, considerate rider who is trying to help them get where they are going faster and easier – don’t be an impediment. It’s simple, but I have found it helps.
We also encourage you to make yourself more visible, by wearing a high visibility cycling jersey.