How being inclusive and aware while cycling can change the world…

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During quite some time in the saddle in 2020, riding already more than 3500 miles this year
(which I tried to do mostly outside to keep my sanity of working inside my house most of the
time during this COVID pandemic), I have had many opportunities reflect on the amazing
joys of cycling while sometimes also being challenged with concerns for safety.
While most people tend to look at situations from their own perspectives, I often try to put
myself in others’ shoes and ask myself the question “what can I do?”… Not always easy for
sure, but most often the best way to reach results… At the end of the day when we address
bike and road safety it doesn’t matter who is right when it means we can’t all get home
safely.
Some general life guidelines to remember that might help all of us while riding our bikes but
probably also in life in general:

  1. Preparation is everything: Know where you are going! Know the route and be
    prepared for any potential unknowns. Make sure you are well prepared with the
    route (know the tough places, intersections, … and if you don’t know them, be
    prepared to slow down to assess them correctly), decide on your time of day (what
    are the busy moments?), come with charged lights, bring sufficient fueling (food and
    drinks) and also wear brightly colored clothing so you are easier to be spotted on the
    road.
  2. Awareness leads to understanding: Whether you are riding alone, with a few
    people or in larger group, being aware of your surroundings is key. I personally
    prefer to ride with cyclists I know as the ride becomes more predictable as you
    know/understand their “style”. Critical will always be to communicate your intentions
    while trying to understand as well the intentions of your audience (all other road
    users). Just as you would seek eye contact with others, a good communicator
    should be monitoring the audience for their views and intentions and adapting
    communications accordingly. It’s everyone’s responsibility to take safety seriously
    and do whatever you can to keep yourself and others safe instead of solely
    depending on others to do that for you. We all (need to) share the road, we all share
    the ownership for safety together.
  3. Timing is key: If you don’t communicate your intentions on the road at the right
    moment, you can either create an issue by raising a change in your course too early
    or react too late, leaving your intended messaging without anticipated reaction and
    creating potentially an (unintended) 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 positive impact on all road users.
  4. Respect rules the world: If we step back and remind ourselves that there is a
    person driving the car, then we are already removing unnecessary friction, can
    hopefully respect a different view and seek to build compromise in our
    communications to diffuse potentially tough and/or unsafe situations. If we still would
    get concerned by another road user’s behaviour, the best response is to take a deep
    breathe (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 be a second

ahead by remaining calm and taking a moment to focus and center in on your
message and meeting the other road user where they are at. It pays off in life in
general and will hopefully contribute to creating a safer outdoors for everyone…
Bike happy! Bike safe!