Call

Blog

Law
02

Blog

Bike Law Ambassador: Cycling Teaches Life Lessons

Guest post by Bike Law Ambassador Nicole Van Baelen

The pandemic has affected our lives in many different ways. For me, working from home has provided both the opportunity, and the need, to spend more time than usual riding my bike. While riding the 3500 miles I have logged so far in the saddle this year, I have reflected on the many joys, and also the challenges, of cycling. As a Bike Law Ambassador in North Carolina (where Ann Groninger is the Bike Law attorney), I am particularly attuned to the importance of safe cycling and better biking for all.

One of the hardest things for most of us to do in life is to look at situations from the other person’s perspective. This is just as true on the bike as anywhere else, and during my many hours on the bike I spent some time reflecting on what would happen if we all practiced looking at each other’s point of view more often. At the end of the day when we talk about bike and road safety it doesn’t matter who is right; what matters is getting home safely.

Some general guidelines that I keep in mind while riding also help guide the way I conduct my life in general:

Preparation is everything: Know where you are going. Know the route and be prepared for any potential unknown interactions. Understand the route (analyze challenging intersections or heavier traffic areas, … and if you don’t know them, be prepared to slow down to have time to assess them). Wisely choose the time of day during which you’ll ride. f you are riding for fun or training, try to avoid the busier times. Ride with charged lights if they’re required, bring sufficient fuel (food and drinks) and dress appropriately.

Bike Law at speed

Awareness leads to understanding: Whether you are riding alone, with a few people or in larger group, being aware of your surroundings is key. When riding with groups I personally prefer to ride with cyclists I know as the ride becomes more predictable when you are familiar with each other’s style of riding. It is critical to communicate your intentions while trying to also understand the intentions of your audience (all other road users). Like making eye contact with others in a conversation, a good communicator should be monitoring the audience for their views and intentions and adapting communications accordingly. We all have the responsibility to take safety seriously and do whatever we can to keep ourselves and others safe. We all use the same roads; we can work together to use them harmoniously and as safely as possible.

Timing is key: Communicating with other road users at the right time is important. Signaling a change too early or too late can cause miscommunications or misjudgments and create an unintended but unsafe situation. Taking the right action at the right time and making sure that your communication is clear and visible can make a huge difference and create a positive impression on other road users.

Respect rules the world: When negative interactions occur, I try to always take the high road. I step back and remind myself that there is a person driving the car and I try to understand that person’s point of view. This is not easy when it feels like that person doesn’t care about my life or safety, but it helps remove animosity and gives me a starting point to seek to build compromise in our communications to diffuse potentially tough and/or unsafe situations. The best response is to take a deep breath (and maybe a short break), and refocus and reconsider your strategy. Too often, as emotional beings, we let the heart dominate the head. Try to stay a second ahead by remaining calm and taking a moment to focus and center in on your message and meeting the other road user at their starting point. It pays off in life in general and will hopefully contribute to creating a safer outdoor space for everyone.

Bike happy! Bike safe!

 

 

Comments

E-BIKE LAWS. ARE THEY LEGAL?
Ann Groninger Apr 04, 2024

Love them or hate them, e-bikes continue to rise in popularity. At the same time, lawmakers struggle to keep up with the developing technologies. Every week I get multiple inquiries from people trying to navigate North Carolina’s e-bike laws. If you’re confused, you’re not alone.  We could easily fill a book with all the latest […]

Read More
Ann Groninger Jan 04, 2024

Many of our cycling clients find themselves having to interact with the criminal justice system. Typically, it’s because the driver who hits them (or their family member) is charged with a crime or traffic offense. Occasionally bicyclists themselves are charged with traffic offenses! Every state’s criminal laws are different, but there is a lot of […]

Read More
Bike Crash Road Defect Georgia
Peter Wilborn Jun 14, 2023

We recently shared the story of a trial victory from the State of Texas where a bicyclist was injured due to a defect in a road maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation. Texas Road Defect   We now can tell the story of another huge win in a road defect case, this time from […]

Read More
Road defect dangerous to cyclists
Charlie Thomas Mar 14, 2023

Recently, attorneys with the Bike Law network took a case to a trial against a titan of a defendant: the Texas Department of Transportation. TxDOT was represented by the Attorney General’s Office, one of Texas’ largest legal teams. We had a great client, but it was a tough case to prove. So tough, in fact, […]

Read More
bike path charlotte
Ann Groninger Jan 13, 2023

  2023 got off to a rough start for Charlotte, North Carolina, particularly in the context of road safety. Within about a week, we lost a young woman who was riding her bicycle, a pedestrian killed in the same area of town, and four people were killed in a car wreck on I-85 in the […]

Read More
North Carolina Bike Crash
Ann Groninger Dec 06, 2022

Unless you’re a very recent follower of ours, you’ve heard us talk before about “contributory negligence.” To recap: “pure contributory negligence” is the law in North Carolina and only 3 other states (Alabama, Virginia, Maryland). In pure contributory negligence states, if a person is injured by someone else’s fault and the injured person contributes even […]

Read More
Is It Illegal to Ride Your Bike on the Sidewalk bikelaw
Peter Wilborn Aug 01, 2022

The laws dictating whether you can ride your bike on the sidewalk differ depending where you live. Different states have different laws on this matter, and local ordinances also vary. Let’s take a look at the legal framework behind various state laws related to cycling on sidewalks. The laws of sidewalk-riding can be very complicated […]

Read More
Ebike crash
Bruce Hagen Apr 26, 2022

DRIVER ON METH KILLS 17 YEAR OLD BICYCLIST, BARROW COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY REFUSES TO CHARGE DRIVER WITH FELONY.   On August 23, 2020, at approximately 8:40pm, 17-year old Obianuju Osuegbu was on her way home from her summer job working at a grocery store. She had earned enough money that summer to buy herself a […]

Read More
Stop as Yield
Brian Weiss Apr 25, 2022

Finally, “Stop As Yield” (the much sought after common sense traffic law for bicyclists) is coming to Colorado in 2022, likely July 1st.   Stop as Yield, aka the “Safety Stop” After the Governor Polis signs the law and the Safety Stop becomes effective, anyone who rides a bicycle or scooter on public roads will […]

Read More
Load More