The vast majority of tandem teams utilize paved roadways for cycling routes. For many this is a choice that places the two riders into immediate harms way. Here are five tips to being safe while riding the roads.
Tip 1 – Pick a line
Whether the roadway has a bike lane, wide shoulder, or no shoulder at all while riding the captain should pick and stick to a line. Vehicles approaching and passing will almost always assume that you are riding straight. By making jerky course movements or erratic turns tandem teams place themselves into danger. Riding a smooth course and making predictable corrections allows motorists to anticipate your position in a lane and adjust their course accordingly.
Tip 2 – Obey Traffic Laws
Stop signs and red lights are not suggestions… they mean stop. While the road may be clear and you may be safe the simple step of blowing through a red light or stop sign bodes ill will towards all cyclists. Should the worse happen and you are involved in an accident the law will always fall on the side of the person who broke the least amount of laws… break none and you have a better case.
Tip 3 – Say NO to headphones
Hearing is your first line of defense. On pavement cyclists are generally killed by rear-end accidents. While accidents can still occur allowing yourself to hear passing traffic can offer a split second extra reaction time. Also, by keeping hearing open you enable passing cyclists to warn you of their approach with an “On yer left”.
Tip 4 – Never Assume a Motorist has Spotted You – Eye Contact is Important
At intersections make eye contact with opposing motorists. Recognize that they probably don’t see you at all so never assume eye contact equals safety but the practice of making eye contact allows you to gauge potential risk. Do the same when approaching cross-streets… never assume a vehicle will indeed stop.
Tip 5 – Map your routes
Find roads that are less traveled or more bike friendly. When in unfamiliar territory check in with a local bike shop or email the local cycling club for route tips. Importantly also ask which roads to absolutely avoid. While planning out your routes also note any detours, short cuts, or parallel access roads. By having outs you increase your choices should bad things happen.
Riding a tandem is a fun way to experience cycling with another. These five tips can help make your experience a bit safer and your rides a little more enjoyable. Happy trails.