My daily commute to Gotham HQ only lasts 15 minutes at worst, but it never fails to be life-threatening. While I used to be concerned about getting sideswiped or run over by a speeding car, I’ve come to realize that the more real danger for me lies on the other side of the bike lane – parked cars. One of my biggest (legitimate) fears is that someone will recklessly open their car door into the bike lane, or pull out of a parking spot without seeing me approaching. Here are some ways I’ve been training myself to avoid flying through the window of a compact car.
Checking for Brake Lights or Reverse Lights
Whether they are red or white, if you see any lights to your right side, use this as a sure sign that you are nearing a car that someone’s inside! And when people are inside cars, they will predictably do one of two things: 1) Open the door and get out of that car 2) Stay in that car and drive into your bike lane. Neither of these possible scenarios bodes well for you, so stay on the lookout for lights!
Checking for Faces in Sideview Mirrors
No, I am not suggesting that you check yourself out in every little mirror that you ride by (although if you’re rocking a Defender on your handlebars, I don’t blame you for wanting to). Looking for faces in sideview mirrors is another good way to determine if anyone is in one of the cars ahead of you. If you catch their eye give ‘em a smile and a nod to remind them you’re a human being.
Paying Attention to Car Orientation
While some people just park like crap, if you see a car that is slightly angled in a parking spot, it could also very well be that it is on the verge of pulling out into your lane. Stay alert for any subtle movement of the tires that would confirm your suspicions.
Setting Headlight to Flashing, Even During the Day
Since your headlight rests at almost exactly the same height as the side view mirror of a typical car, you can use this to your advantage by always riding with it turned on. However, it’s not enough to just have it on, because it’s easy for a motorist to mistake you for a distant car. By setting your headlight to flashing, you make certain that people know specifically that a bicyclist is approaching.