Cyclists offer some (mostly) kind advice
Never underestimate the friendliness of fellow bicyclists — or their propensity to point out everything you're doing wrong. Last week's article on my adventures in urban cycling brought dozens of gratifying responses from readers (plus, as expected, a few run-'em-off-the-road cranks). The correspondents shared details of their commuting histories, their routes, their accidents. I was invited to join in on more than one daily commute and told to wave if I saw certain bikers on certain roads.
I was also chided (politely) for points the article didn't raise, and in almost all cases the readers were right. Because I was writing about commuting during the day, I didn't mention lights (even so, many riders use their lights during daylight hours as well). Truth: The more you and your bike resemble a blinking Christmas tree, the more easily you'll be seen and the safer you'll be.
I was told I should be dressed in brighter colors; point taken. Many readers mentioned mirrors (I've never been able to make them work well for me, but I'll keep trying). A few mentioned the mysterious but crucial art of making eye contact with drivers and pedestrians.
The most touching responses came from a few readers who said they'd always wanted to try riding in the city but were simply too nervous about the traffic, the peds — all that input.
What I can suggest to them is to try a few test-rides into town on weekend mornings when car traffic is minimal and see how it feels. If you can find your groove, keep your eyes open, and respect others, urban biking really is safer than you think.