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Traffic Dummies video

Traffic Dummies video

Top 7 Things to Pay Attention to and Avoid as a Road Cyclist

Top 7 Things to Pay Attention to and Avoid as a Road Cyclist

With exponentially growing numbers of people dwelling in towns and cities, promoting reciprocal, healthy and attentive behaviour on the roads has become more important than ever. Our newest campaign, Traffic Dummies, highlights those breaking points where a slight lapse of judgement, a second of absent-mindedness or giving in to any old distraction might carry frightening consequences, especially in traffic.

Here are seven things to look out for that you might be guilty of doing or not giving sufficient thought to when in the saddle.

With exponentially growing numbers of people dwelling in towns and cities, promoting reciprocal, healthy and attentive behaviour on the roads has become more important than ever. Our newest campaign, Traffic Dummies, highlights those breaking points where a slight lapse of judgement, a second of absent-mindedness or giving in to any old distraction might carry frightening consequences, especially in traffic.

Here are seven things to look out for that you might be guilty of doing or not giving sufficient thought to when in the saddle.

With exponentially growing numbers of people dwelling in towns and cities, promoting reciprocal, healthy and attentive behaviour on the roads has become more important than ever. Our newest campaign, Traffic Dummies, highlights those breaking points where a slight lapse of judgement, a second of absent-mindedness or giving in to any old distraction might carry frightening consequences, especially in traffic.

Here are seven things to look out for that you might be guilty of doing or not giving sufficient thought to when in the saddle.

PAY ATTENTION TO:

Don’t underestimate road-specific distractions  

Maybe not right now, but cities and roads are usually bustling with life and colour – and also with an army of distractions. Clever ads, flashy LCD screens at traffic stops, street food stands, busking musicians, trams, cars, dogs on the leash… we could go on. This haphazard mix is truly no friend to lack of attention. Be on high alert when entering busy road networks, as something is inevitably going to cross your path or catch your interest, and it’s best to be ready to steer away or brake.

Both in the cityscape and off the road, a few high-risk areas can function as fall and accident hotspots. Tram or train tracks are an excellent example. Riding across them might throw you off balance or your front wheel might get stuck in one, causing you to go on a little sightseeing flight to destination Tarmac. Other such places are bridges, busy intersections or spaces surrounding big shopping centres. These all have to do with surface segmentation and a multitude of obstacles – speed bumps, concrete dividers, barriers and so on – so you need to be extra vigilant. Furthermore, one of the places you should never find yourself at, even when in a hurry, is at the side of a lorry. From their elevated position, lorry drivers have too many blind spots to be sure to always spot a passing cyclist and give enough space, which in turn causes the rider to hit the kerb or fencing and crash. This situation often causes fatal accidents. Be extra careful not to venture there.

Speed Racer

Music Lover

Phone maniac

Beware of dooring

Beware when cycling by cars parked in a line parallel to the road – their door can suddenly swing open and easily block off your path. You will either stop in time and exchange a few ‘pleasantries’ with the exiting passenger or you’ll crash into said door. Neither of these options is ideal. Some cars, like the ŠKODA OCTAVIA, feature a range of driving assistance systems that act as a set of all-seeing eyes to protect the driver and other traffic participants, like the Blind Spot Detect. When a car, a cyclist or an object is approaching from behind, the system flashes a LED symbol in the wing mirror to let you know. It’s best not to assume, though, that the car you’re about to pass has this feature or that the driver is aware that you’re coming.

For the drivers who wish to prevent this, there’s always the Dutch Reach. We know we’ve been praising the Dutch Reach quite often, but we just can’t get enough of its brilliant simplicity at literally zero cost. When in the driver’s seat, reach for the door handle with the hand further away from it, which will make your upper body turn, so you can glance over your shoulder and check if there’s anything or anyone coming.

Dutch reach

Beware of dooring

Beware when cycling by cars parked in a line parallel to the road – their door can suddenly swing open and easily block off your path. You will either stop in time and exchange a few ‘pleasantries’ with the exiting passenger or you’ll crash into said door. Neither of these options is ideal. Some cars, like the ŠKODA OCTAVIA, feature a range of driving assistance systems that act as a set of all-seeing eyes to protect the driver and other traffic participants, like the Blind Spot Detect. When a car, a cyclist or an object is approaching from behind, the system flashes a LED symbol in the wing mirror to let you know. It’s best not to assume, though, that the car you’re about to pass has this feature or that the driver is aware that you’re coming.

Dutch reach

For the drivers who wish to prevent this, there’s always the Dutch Reach. We know we’ve been praising the Dutch Reach quite often, but we just can’t get enough of its brilliant simplicity at literally zero cost. When in the driver’s seat, reach for the door handle with the hand further away from it, which will make your upper body turn, so you can glance over your shoulder and check if there’s anything or anyone coming.

Dooring also applies to situations when you weave your way through cars stuck in a traffic jam, with the added bonus of being thrown headfirst onto the boot of the car ahead of you. We know it might be tempting to go all New York messenger style, but the potential risks aren’t worth it. Just play it safe, wait for the green light or dismount and lead your bike on the pavement on foot for a bit if eager for movement.

‘Right hooks’

Let us make it clear that this is a situation where the burden of attention falls on the potential driver, but we wanted to include it anyway as it seems to be a widespread problem and a lot of our readers are also motorists. A ‘right hook’ looks like this: the cyclist, riding in a bike lane or at the side of the road, gets overtaken from their left-hand side by a car intending to make a right turn. Inevitably, the car crosses the bicycle’s path. Either the cyclist has enough time to hit the brakes or the car turns too abruptly and locks the cyclist in a ‘right hook’, and the poor individual ends up in the car’s side. Cyclists, watch out for this dangerous manoeuvre, and drivers, watch out for cyclists when turning on intersections! 

Right hook
A moment of distraction, a right hook, and you’re having a rendezvous with the ground.

AVOID:

Being on the phone

There is growing concern that we all, in one way or another, are to a certain degree addicted to our social media accounts and personas. Be conscious of your habits and don’t put yourself in harm’s way because of them. Maybe don’t shoot that selfie or video when cycling down a busy road to upload to your Stories later, replying to that ridiculous comment can wait until you’re not waiting at the intersection, and your boo won’t flip a lid if you reply later when safely dismounted. The same goes for calls. We use hands-free technology in our cars, why not apply it to cycling? Studies suggest that using Bluetooth in-ears when driving significantly reduces the risk of a crash. Furthermore, strapping your smartphone to the handlebars is a great way to use navigation but might make you more prone to being distracted by receiving messages and other alerts under your nose. Be honest about the role a smartphone plays in your everyday life and eliminate every distraction possible.

Unpredictability 

This is THE big one, in our opinion. No matter if on a bike or in a car, on a casual ride or in a rush, wearing a helmet or not, always be as predictable as possible. Don’t make sudden turns, movements or changes in direction, don’t swerve or zigzag, and always clearly signal your intentions to other traffic participants when it’s possible and safe. You might have the best of intentions on the road, but attention and considerateness reign supreme.

Invisibility

Black is the new black and we all love sleek, dapper, and sharp-looking dark cycling outfits. But proper front and rear lights, reflective elements or bright colours will take you far in terms of safety. Attention is a two-way street – you can’t expect others to pay attention to you if you skipped the part where you pay attention to them. Specifically, if you dress to impress without taking into consideration whether other traffic participants might be able to safely see you, interact with you and avoid you when necessary, then you’re doing it wrong.

If you behave erratically, though, it might not be just because you are unprepared or oblivious. You might be simply caught off guard by a new situation or a piece of equipment you haven’t tried out properly. Take load distribution on a bike, for example. Carrying your belongings on the bicycle has become increasingly popular, and people are widely using cargo bikes, panniers, saddlebags or handlebar bags to do just that. Learning how to handle loads on the bike takes some time as the bike’s centre of gravity will shift, even when you’re wearing just a backpack, and the bike will behave differently. Try it out somewhere safe the first time.

Unpredictability

This is THE big one, in our opinion. No matter if on a bike or in a car, on a casual ride or in a rush, wearing a helmet or not, always be as predictable as possible. Don’t make sudden turns, movements or changes in direction, don’t swerve or zigzag, and always clearly signal your intentions to other traffic participants when it’s possible and safe. You might have the best of intentions on the road, but attention and considerateness reign supreme.

If you behave erratically, though, it might not be just because you are unprepared or oblivious. You might be simply caught off guard by a new situation or a piece of equipment you haven’t tried out properly. Take load distribution on a bike, for example. Carrying your belongings on the bicycle has become increasingly popular, and people are widely using cargo bikes, panniers, saddlebags or handlebar bags to do just that. Learning how to handle loads on the bike takes some time as the bike’s centre of gravity will shift, even when you’re wearing just a backpack, and the bike will behave differently. Try it out somewhere safe the first time.

Invisibility

Black is the new black and we all love sleek, dapper, and sharp-looking dark cycling outfits. But proper front and rear lights, reflective elements or bright colours will take you far in terms of safety. Attention is a two-way street – you can’t expect others to pay attention to you if you skipped the part where you pay attention to them. Specifically, if you dress to impress without taking into consideration whether other traffic participants might be able to safely see you, interact with you and avoid you when necessary, then you’re doing it wrong.

It goes without saying that you should always obey traffic rules and road signs. Keep your eyes peeled for any important signage – other road users doing exactly that might not expect you in places where you have no business being, which might result in a collision.

Riding on sidewalks

We know it’s tempting to ride on the sidewalk in the rush hour. It might appear fairly empty at times, with just a few seemingly predictable pedestrians. But you can never guess anyone’s change of direction or movements upfront – and misfortune is born. For such cases, ŠKODA cars are equipped with something called the City Emergency Brake that warns you when you’re on collision course and might even autonomously brake when the situation seems critical. But on the bike, you’re left to your own devices and it’s always best to err on the side of caution. While drivers can rely on the constantly improving driving assistance systems, cyclists have to trust their own eyes, judgement and reactions.

Safety article

Traffic Dummies

Safety article

Traffic Dummies

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