Keep out of my space. I say that easily 50 times a day when I’m riding. I can’t help it. I need room and time to be able to react and escape possible threats to my safety on the road. I need to leave room for other members of my group to be able to safely respond to what I am doing.
So often I hear “It’s not the bike that scares me, it’s other people”. That statement rings loudly in my ears everytime my kickstand goes up. It runs through my mind until I put it back down at the end of the day. I constantly play the “what if?” game in my head. Wondering if that car will roll the stop sign, if that bicyclist will wander into my lane, if that dog will chase me, if that car approaching me from behind is texting someone and might rear-end me.
It can be terrifying but one way to combat these fears is to create a “space cushion” around myself; A safety bubble and room to react and escape. We all do it in our cars from being taught the 10 second rule or measuring distance by car lengths to keep us safe. The same should be applied as we ride our bikes. Even more so as we are so much less visible and so much more vulnerable than when we are in our cars.
We all do our best to keep a safe following distance but what about beside and behind us? I feel it’s super important to always have 360 degrees of awareness and have that bubble all the way around. By myself and especially in group rides. I try my best to be mindful of my fellow riders so that I’m not in their space cushion. I try to leave them and myself lots of room. I have also learned to keep my lane position consistent. Especially rounding corners and leaving intersections. So there is a common knowledge in my group that I will always be where I am supposed to be unless there is something in my path. I watch the other riders in my group hoping they will do the same. But in the event they do not, or their riding style is different than mine, I have my safety cushion to rely on and I am away from them as they drift in and out of my lane position as we travel through our ride day.
I find my confidence is so much greater when I give myself the time, room and ability to avoid laying my pretty bike down, because you never want that to be your only option. Keep the shiny side up my friends.
Motorcycle Ohio Rider Coach