|A Large of Group of Riders in Critical Mass 13 near Farmgate|
How do you stay alive then? Staying visible, signalling oncoming traffic, staying on the side lanes all help, but still is not enough. What you need to practice is defensive cycling. And here is how that goes
- Complete all the basics of safe cycling, wear a helmet, use tail-lights and head lights, stay highly visible, use a horn, a bell or your voice to the full extent to ensure that others know that you exist
- Assume everyone on the roads are trying to harm you. No, they are not oblivious to you. They know that you exist and is constantly trying to run you over, trip you, put you in a pothole or just trying to put you in an accident. Beware of cars, buses, trucks, cycles, rickshaws, pedestrians, dogs, cats and even birds. Once you are in this mindset then you can start on the next steps
- Never cross a road assuming that the oncoming traffic will slow down for you. Assume that they will run you over. Maybe not today, but someday. I drive a car and I can assure you that drivers are not constantly looking at the road. They get distracted just like everyone else. Try finding a group of people to cross with, or signal to oncoming traffic and once they have slowed down, only then can you cross
- The same rule applies for changing lanes, take a look at the back, see if the driver has seen you, if not, wait. Even if you have to go to the sides of the road to wait, that is preferable to being run over
- Do not break traffic rules. On the same note, do not assume that anyone else is maintaining traffic rules. On a traffic signal, if the lights are green, still check around for the car, bus, motorbike, cycle etc. who is trying to speed away from the red light from another point.
- Pedestrians are the deadliest creatures on the road. Everyday I ride a car, I see at least 10 people who are crossing the road with their back turned to oncoming traffic. They fail to realize that their backside is not a magical defense system preventing traffic from hitting them. Get out of this I-CAN'T-SEE-THE-CAR-SO-IT-DOESN'T-EXIST mentality. When crossing the road, look on both sides and then and only then cross, and cross as fast as you can
- Do not ride on the wrong side of the road. And when you are on the right side assume that someone is going to come from the wrong side.
So far, these are the points I could think of. Please let me know of additions, deletions, corrections in the comments. This is the beginning of the defensive cycling movement in Dhaka. And we hope that it will help us in preventing accidents on the Dhaka Streets.
Happy safe cycling.