How to: position yourself and make turns
- By London Cycling Campaign on at 7:07pm 18 September 2011
- Posted in: Advice
- Tagged with: training, skills, turning, Cycle skills, riding, take the lane, assertive cycling
It's all too easy to find yourself bullied into riding in the gutter or getting off and waiting to turn. But a few simple skills can get you riding safely and more confidently.
Be safe, be seen, be assertive
A common cause of collisions is the dreaded SMIDSY - "Sorry Mate, I Didn't See You". Riding "assertively" and "taking the lane" where you need to means drivers are forced into acknowledging your existence. That might mean the occasional beep from behind. But it also means far fewer close passes, less risk of a driver overtaking you only to immediately swing left across your path at a junction and less risk of a car door opening into your path.
Always ride at least 1m from the kerb or nearest parked car. This means you can see and be seen far easier. When you're approaching junctions, or on narrow roads where a driver overtaking would be dangerous, then "take the lane" and move into the middle, ensuring anyone overtaking you will have to pass into the next lane over. If there is a car behind you, a quick look at the driver and hand signal before you move out helps communicate what you're about to do (and check they're not going to try and bully you out the way). Then move back to the side when possible to let them pass.
Turns made easy
When turning, signalling with your hand helps drivers (and pedestrians) around you work out what you're doing. For that reason it's a good idea to do it. But if you feel unsafe taking your hand off the handlebars, you don't have to.
To turn right, there's the added issue that you want to look over your shoulder and check for traffic before you cross lanes. And then potentially "hold the lane" (forcing traffic behind you to wait for you) or get to a waiting space as you wait for oncoming traffic. Don't try and squeeze out of the way and fit in a tiny gap between oncoming traffic and traffic passing behind you.
If you find this difficult, you can always pull over and wait for a gap. And you can, of course, always just get off and walk. That's OK. Better to ride than not ride, after all.