• A Defense Strategy You Can Use

    by  • May 1, 2012 • Safety • 2 Comments

    Whether or not the statistics back it, many bicyclists (and most of those who would like to bike) are certain that riding on the road and in traffic is quite dangerous, and becoming more so every year. Most cite distracted driving and some form of road rage, often times resulting from perfectly legal maneuvers bicyclists must follow as participants in vehicular traffic. One of the most common questions asked of Bike Delaware advocates involves defense. How does one go about seriously defending his or herself, when the odds of being caught are stacked so heavily in motorist’s favor?

    A recent question concerned throwing objects at bicyclists:

    Dear Bike Delaware,
    What’s your strategy for dealing with motorists who throw stuff at you from a moving vehicle? Have you had this happen to you? I had heard about it, but never had it happen until about three weeks ago. Then it happened again last night on my commute home – someone threw a cup of soda + ice at me (and missed!) as I was heading north on Marsh road. I wasn’t in his way — I was simply minding my own business in the bike lane. What’s up with that? I don’t understand why someone would do that. I tried to get the license plate but it was dark and they were going about 40 mph. Do you have a method for how to deal with this emotionally to prevent it from ruining your riding experience?  — Anonymous

    One answer might be video surveillance. The video below shows 2 bicyclists getting hit by a car while riding properly and considerately of other vehicular traffic. Fortunately, they escaped with only minor scrapes and bruises. But if you look closely, the license plate was captured as the motorist sped away:

    The “Contour Roam” is a popular model, and can be found in stores like EMS, or ordered on Amazon.com. It is very lightweight, and can be mounted to a helmet or handlebar with ease. Just slide the record switch and you’re instantly filming clear HD video. The award-winning design is tough, compact, waterproof, and versatile which means you can use the Contour ROAM to capture the road ahead or behind. Unfortunately, since Delaware doesn’t require a front license plate, facing ahead is your best chance at catching a tag number.

    Using a shovel to enforce 3 Foot Passing. Sadly enough, even a wide bike lane is no guarantee against harassment or inattentive driving.


    Traffic Safety Facts in Delaware

    Dangerous by Design

    Bike Delaware Challenge

    2 Responses to A Defense Strategy You Can Use

    1. Felix Cartagena
      May 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      When I was active with WCBC back in the 1970s & 80s, it frequently happened that riders on club sponsored rides were attacked with liquids, ice, and even eggs. On one ride at least 10 riders were assaulted with most getting the license number of the van. When reported to the local police, they were told that, unless they could identify the attacker, the police would not take any action, despite having a description and license of the van. I personally have been assaulted when a jerk hung out the window and punched me in the back, the car having to come in 5 feet off the road to get me. Fortunately I was not knocked off the bike. As it happened, I caught up to these bozos (driver and passenger) a bit later as they were exiting the car. Despite the fact that both of them towered over me, I gave them a tongue lashing. They were so surprised that they had been caught, they meekly apologised. I found out later my assailant’s brother was in prison for fracturing the skull of a State Trooper. Bottom line is that there are nasty amoral people out there who get their jollies out of assaulting bicyclists knowing full well the police have more important things to do than investigate cyclists complaints. Sorry to be a wet noodle, but this is the way it is.

      • Steve
        May 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm

        That may be the way it is but it isn’t the way it has to be. That’s the distinction we should be discussing and there are ways to get the police proactively involved in sticking up for cyclist’s rights and reducing the number of injuries and deaths of all road users from dangerous driving.

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