Everything Will Be OK, they say (and these signs* even went global via news coverage this week), but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re Traveling at the Speed of Bike during the coronavirus crisis on roads that take you to local businesses and essential services.
Yes, there are fewer cars, but drivers are speeding more on roads that are already dangerous by design (don’t let the bike lanes in the photo fool ya’ — I won’t go near them without BikeNoodle** as they are too narrow, unprotected, and don’t meet NACTO guidelines, plus they end suddenly). This seems to be consistent nationwide, from what I can tell in my Twitter feed.
Some cities are providing additional safe access for people of all ages and abilities walking and riding bikes during these unprecedented times, but mine isn’t (despite being the first city in the southeastern United States to pass a Vulnerable Road User law, which, by the way, is not in effect until May).
I see folks who are new or returning to bike riding out there (including lots of children for the first time in years), and I am worried about their safety. I’ve already asked City Hall for proven temporary pop-up changes to enable safer social distancing and reduce the potential for avoidable car-crash victims in hospitals, but I received a flat no.
The only thing I can offer you now is some League of American Bicyclists advice, amended with rubber-hits-the-road suggestions of my own. So, here goes:
- Make sure your bike is in good riding condition (bike repair shops are considered essential businesses, and they could use your love right now);
- Choose a route that matches the level of risk you are willing to assume (don’t get sucked into that “you just need to be more confident” crap) and please note the risks are higher now due to increased driver speeding;
- Know the main reasons crashes happen and take affirmative steps to avoid them;
- Advocate at your local city hall for increased safe access (your voice may be the tipping point);
- Take my free virtual class (ultra condensed from my live two-hour class to just 30 minutes that may save your life). It includes all the previous points (and more) plus bonus tips specific for girls and women (who are passed more closely, harassed more often, and underrepresented in our public spaces known as streets), based on rubber-hits-the-road findings nationwide. (Excuse any video/audio imperfections. I made this awhile ago. I try.)
* based on this sign in the metro-Atlanta suburb-city of Dunwoody, Georgia, USA
** Is it time for you to try BikeNoodle? See video below. You can get the sticker here.