A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

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A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby Pax » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:27 pm

Interested in other people’s opinion about the following theory / strategy as a contributing factor to our safety on the roads as commuters.

I’ve been reflecting on how rarely I have “close calls” or d!ckheads giving me trouble on my commute (emphasis on “my commute”, not my weekend rides).

I think that the main reason is that most drivers are OK…they don’t want to harm us any more than we want to get into harms way.

However I think that there is more to it than that. I think that there is also a bit of “conditioning” of the drivers going on.
Explanation: I travel at roughly the same time every day, and by the same route most of the time. I ride fast, confidently and assertively but not aggressively (left that behind years ago) ie I look like I know what I am doing, and that I believe that I belong on the road. Importantly, I do lots of waving a “thankyou” gesture & acknowledgement to drivers who give way, make space, give eye contact or act in any kind of bike aware way…even if they are just following the rules of the road.

I’m working on the theory that positive reinforcement is powerful. I’m also working on the theory that every driver who remembers me in a positive way is more likely to treat riders in general (and hopefully me) with more respect, or at least with tolerance and awareness.

Some people think that thanking people for just obeying the rules is counter productive. I don’t agree. There is heaps of evidence that positive reinforcement works. Frankly it also just feels good to give someone a smile and a thankyou wave. It makes the ride more enjoyable and reinforces to me that there are heaps of drivers out there who aren’t out to get us.

Thoughts???
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by BNA » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:48 pm

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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby Kalgrm » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:48 pm

100% agreement from me.

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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby sogood » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:35 pm

I always give a "thanks" hand gesture to drivers who wait behind me when possible and move left and wave them past at the first opportunity. I think that's the least we can do. Evidence of us dancing on the pedals up the hill is good to show that we are working hard to minimise any slowing of the traffic. I have never had drivers hook me when I am working hard.
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby Mulger bill » Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:35 am

Very well put Pax. What can we do to boost its hit probability?

For mine, a wave or a finger is given (to all road users) as required. I'm glad to say that Skybus aside, the vast majority get a wave.

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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby njg02 » Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:23 pm

Pax,

Great post! I feel safer already, no matter which route I ride. I think the clincher is looking as though you know what you are doing, whilst being courteous doing it.

Neil
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby goneriding » Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:58 pm

A wave of thanks if I've held someone up or they have let in. Extra big wave if they actually stopped at a roundabout!

Cynical thumbs up for general bad/dumb behaviour (i.e. roundabouts).

Semaphore and verbal emphasis for outright stupidity (i.e. roundabouts)!
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby rustguard » Thu Apr 30, 2009 12:41 am

yep i make a point of waving too whenever a driver makes way for me freely, they deserve a reward and incentive to do it again +100
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby Pax » Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:10 am

Great to see the positive replies. Thanks for that.

I think there are two levels to this approach too. There is the general impact of trying to be a positive presence on the road in general but there is also the more focussed positive presence on my (or your) specific route at a specific time every day:

ie on the commute you are very likely to be dealing with the same drivers day after day (because they are in a commuting routine just like you are) so over time you interact multiple times with that group: they get to recognise YOU as a positive presence, outcome = greater acceptance and safety on that route at that time for you (plus hopefully the wider impact too...though at a more diluted level no doubt)
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby m@ » Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:30 am

I think you're definitely onto something. When I first started commuting on my current route about 18 months ago, I routinely got elbow-shaved by busses, and they would often accelerate to overtake immediately before pulling into a stop. I've made a conscious effort to slow and wave them out when they're indicating right to pull out of a stop, even if I'm quite close and need to brake hard. Most drivers and cyclists routinely ignore the fact that the bus has right-of-way in this scenario. Anyway, I almost never have problems with Metro buses these days; might be unrelated but you never know.

Conversely, it's almost always the same cars that overtake dangerously in about the same place every morning. If only they'd set their alarm ten minutes earlier they wouldn't be in such a rush :roll:
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby MustangSally187 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:33 pm

Yep, i 100% agree with what your doing, and i always try and do the same thing when im out on the road.
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby eucryphia » Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:50 pm

Pax wrote:I’m working on the theory that positive reinforcement is powerful. I’m also working on the theory that every driver who remembers me in a positive way is more likely to treat riders in general (and hopefully me) with more respect, or at least with tolerance and awareness.


Absolutely 100%

Especially avoid any nonsense around trucks...
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby Morty » Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:19 pm

Totally agree, if only all riders took this approach all the time, we'd all be better off.
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby hartleymartin » Sat May 02, 2009 4:17 pm

I agree with what you do, although in my area I do my best to take less trafficked streets for most of my riding. Don't tell all the motorists out there, but almost for every busy main road, there is usually a parallel back road with almost no traffic on it!
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby bigfriendlyvegan » Sun May 03, 2009 11:31 pm

+1 to what's been said.

I've also started to talk to the close personal friends, rather than just screaming obscenities at them. Of course, this won't work with the real close personal friends, but I'm rethinking my definition lately. For example, the other evening a guy came through at a roundabout that I was on. I was in the middle of the lane and had to swerve to avoid getting hit. We both stopped, he apologised and said he didn't see me and instead of jumping through his window and beating the crap out of him I told him that mistakes like that end up with me being dead and I was just trying to get home to see my family, just like him. It actually had an impact on him, and I felt better about it too.

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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby Pax » Mon May 04, 2009 12:37 am

bigfriendlyvegan wrote:+1 to what's been said.

I've also started to talk to the d***h***s, rather than just screaming obscenities at them.


Had a good experience of this a while back, a bloke shouted out of his window as his g'f drove past me...scared the cr@p our of me, I caught up with them at the lights and asked him if he was just a bit embarrassed...to his credit he said "yep" we had a bit of a chat and off we headed...no idea what the outcome of that will be in the long run, hopefully good :?
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Re: A strategy to improve safety on our regular routes

Postby misterhorsey » Mon May 04, 2009 10:10 pm

I'm definitely practising this approach to the commute. Acknowledging drivers when they let you pass (even though you have right of way) makes them more aware of your presence on the road. I combine this approach with making sure I take up my fair share of road when I'm entitled to it, but also making sure I don't unnecessarily get in the way of cars (ie, at the lights, standing on the right of the left turning lane so cars can go past).

A few weeks back a car pulled out of a parking space causing me to brake very very hard. I also yelled out 'Watch it!' before I actually knew what I was doing. As I collected myself I was standing right outside the driver window. Driver looked very shocked and apologetic. I just kind of looked at her, didn't really know what to say myself, and just kind of raised my hand in acknowledgement.

She knew she'd done wrong. And didn't need anyone to point it out to her.

I've only been commuting for a only little while. But finding it almost like a daily psychological game. If you shout at drivers, even when they are in the wrong and know that they are in the wrong, it will simply get their back up at you. It makes it easier for them to justify their bad driving/lack of care. If you are polite to and respectful to them, it makes it so much harder to dismiss you as a cycling maniac and hopefully will make them more aware of your presence.

As for the crazy drivers, I'm not sure if anything will get through to them.

As for the crazy cyclists...
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