As cyclists on a roadway tandem teams interact with many different people utilizing various competing transportation forms. From passenger cars to big rig trucks the other road users, in general, are operating larger and heavier equipment. To add a layer of safety into the regular tandem routine the following 6 steps are suggested:
- Always obey basic traffic laws – Laws are designed to protect everyone by codifying a basic set of tenants.
- Keep your tandem in top operational form. There was a recent trial in Los Angeles regarding a road rage case where a doctor passed two cyclists and then slammed on his brakes in front of them. The defense actually hired a scientist to inspect and test the brakes on the cyclists’ bikes. Had they not been of good quality their case could very well have been lost right there.
- Communicate upcoming obstacles, turns, and weight shifts. The stoker is essentially blind behind the captain meaning they will be late to react to changes in course. By proactively communicating and making it a routine tandem teams will be able to work together on the bike and avoid costly over-corrections
- Anticipate the negative actions of others. When approaching cross-streets anticipate that the vehicle approaching on your side will not see you or stop. Prepare ahead of time to avoid the potential collision or take actions to make sure the driver will see your team.
- Listen – often the best early warning system while riding is your hearing. Keep your ears open for vehicles approaching from the rear paying attention to engine rpm pitch, down/ up shifting, or braking. Again be proactive in your attention to sounds if the vehicle doesn’t sound normal take a look to be sure your are safe.
- Avoid the road rage trap. Unfortunately there are folks out there that will go out of their way to provoke a confrontation. Coming from all walks of life their reasoning and cause can vary but their actions generally do not. Most times it starts with a honk or a brush by of the side view mirror. The perpetrator will follow it up with a steady view in their rear view mirror waiting for your reaction. Here is the trap… You can react aggressively and escalate the confrontation by any number of socially known moves (flipping the bird is one) OR you can make a note of the vehicle and license and report the action to authorities and continue on your way. Although option one can feel better the perp is often hoping you will escalate so they can further harass. By taking the moral high ground you avoid getting into further altercations and hopefully help build a case against the aggressor.
In the end your tandem team is out to have fun and enjoy the experience of a bicycle built for two. By taking basic precautions you can help minimize risk and avoid dangerous situations for your team. Ride safe and ride smart.