Even if you take precautions while outside on your bike, are alert to your surroundings, and predictable in your actions, there may be a time when you’ll need an emergency maneuver. According to Larry Mysz, League Cycling Instructor and speaker at the Oct. 13 meeting of the Chicago Cycling Club, sometimes you can’t avoid an obstacle and you need to stop or turn quickly. If you know how to do this and have practiced the move it will be second nature when you need it and you will be able to “save your bacon”, that is, come out of the situation unharmed.
Examples of times when you might need to act quickly when on your bike:
Two of the most valuable moves in the League of American Bicyclists bike safety curriculum that can be used to avoid a crash are the Quick Stop and Quick Turn.
Eighty percent of the braking on a bike comes from the front brake. But if you brake too hard there is a risk the rear wheel will rise up and the rider will be thrown over the handlebars. To counteract this, you should transfer as much of your weight as possible to the rear of the bike. Use both brakes, because studies of braking with just the front, just the rear, and with both brakes have shown that you reduce the distance required to stop the most with both brakes.
To turn a bike it has to lean, but it takes time to setup a lean and in an emergency, you do not have time to implement that unless you force a lean with a counter steer.
For these maneuvers to become automatic, you will need to practice them so you can react will know exactly what to do without a lot of thought. You will not have time to think though the options when you need to react quickly to avoid a crash. In a parking lot or on a light traffic trail you can practice a quick stop at a leaf or mark on the road. In a parking lot or driveway you can practice a quick turn onto a low traffic street. There are YouTube videos and, during non-pandemic times, bike safety classes you can take to understand the nuances of these maneuvers. Larry Mysz's presentation contained videos of these maneuvers in action, and you can watch the Zoom recording. Passcode: 5s46E7d?
Preparation and practice will help you be safe.
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