I recently wrote an article titled Cycling Self-Defense. In that article, I talked about how to defend yourself while riding a bicycle. Well, I am going to revisit this subject again because I realized the shortcomings of my previous plans for defense.
I recently bought a road bike designed for long distance riding at faster speeds. This bike has clipless pedals which are used with cycling shoes. These shoes have a hard, stiff, nonflexible sole and a special plate on the bottom that snaps into the pedals. They are designed to hold in place and not slip off, and once you clip in, you are in until you unclip, which can be hard sometimes. Here is a video of what cycling shoes and pedals look like and how to use them.
I was out riding the new bike and getting used to the new pedals and shoes. As I came to a stop at a stop sign, I got one shoe unclipped and was waiting for the traffic to clear. All the sudden, a lady in a car made a turn left from the main road onto the road I was on. She turned into my lane, and I had to move over fast or be run over by her car. I tried to unclip the other shoe and couldn’t. She turned so close causing me to fall over on the road. When I fell over, I hit hard, and the fall caused me to have several bad gashes on my left leg. She did not stop to see if I was okay; she just sped off leaving me there injured.
As I made it to a place where I could sit down and really check myself over, I realized that my handgun did me no good in this scenario. When I crashed, I had my handgun in the back pocket of my cycling jersey, and when I hit the road, the gun came out of the pocket and hit the road, as well. Good thing I left it in condition two which is a loaded magazine with an empty chamber.
When I picked it up to check it, the firing pin had discharged, so if it had been loaded, I probably would have had a gunshot wound in my back in addition to the gashes on my leg.
This made me think about the next time I crash. So, I need to figure out a safe way of carrying a handgun while cycling. This is my first problem, and I can fix it. My second problem, however, is more difficult. How can I protect myself from being hit by a vehicle?
In a game of cyclist vs. vehicle, the vehicle is going to win every time. So, I did more research and came up with the following. There is no good way of protecting myself from the vehicle hitting me, but I can do the following for prevention and evidence collection.
The first this is to follow all the laws that govern cycling on the road which I already do. Here is a link to each state’s cycling laws: http://bikeleague.org/StateBikeLaws.
Second, I still use my GoPro cameras on my bicycle which has helped several times with individuals who have tried to harm me. It also helps force the authorities to do their job.
Third, I wear bright colors and use reflectors and lights.
Fourth, I also have found and use an app called Road ID, which is great for anyone who runs, walks, or cycles out on the road. The app is free and simple– you can set it up in about five minutes. The app works by tracking your GPS location and sending that info to five contacts of your choosing in real time. If you end up getting hurt or don’t move for five minutes, it will send a notification of your last GPS coordinates to your contacts.
What should you do if you’re attacked while cycling? I have had to use my pepper spray more than my handgun because of dogs who chase and try to bite me. Dog attacks are serious. The pepper spray works great on dogs; it just takes one hit in the eyes and nose, and the dog stops right in its tracks. Also, the next time I ride by that dog, it will not chase me. This works out great for both the owner and me. I don’t have to be worried about being bitten, and the owner doesn’t have to worry about paying medical and legal bills. Here is a video of a cyclist that used pepper spray on a dog which attacked him.
I also now have a small air horn on the bicycle to scare off dogs and get the attention of its owner.
The last thing I carry is a folding knife made by Gerber knives called the F.A.S.T. It is one hand opening, lightweight, and thin. I place it in the back pocket of my jersey which makes it very easy for me to get to it if needed.
One last thing everyone can do to help keep the road safe for cyclists and themselves is to know the laws regarding cycling and vehicles. In many states, there are 3 feet passing laws or more, at a safe speed. If you come upon a cyclist and you’re doing 60 mph, slow down. If you fly right past them at that speed the wind drag from the vehicle could cause them to crash, so slow down and pass when you can at a safe speed.
Also, know the hand signals that are used for making turns and stopping. Here is a video of the proper hand signals to indicate turns and stopping.
Please remember, if a cyclist is signaling that they’re making a left turn it does not mean to speed up and pass in the left lane.
Also, if you are following a cyclist, don’t tailgate them, if they happen to fall, you might run them over and kill them. Give them at least one car length or more.
Lastly, please, never honk your horn at a cyclist. It startles them and can cause them to crash. Be patient. Please respect everyone who uses the road; we all have the right to use it. Obey all the laws– the last thing anyone needs it to stand in front of a judge and jury and explain why our actions caused death or serious injury of a person. Please, it is not worth losing everything you own.
Here is a video of a person who was in the wrong and now is facing jail time for their actions, please be warned there is very explicit language in this video.
I am currently working on the first, real, practical cycling defensive plan for cyclists, and it is harder than I thought. So, as I go along, I will be creating a series of video articles explaining and demonstrating my plan. I hope you enjoy them and find the information valuable. Here is a video I made about what I think is the best cycling defensive tool. https://youtu.be/WDAGV6b7iek
Here is the link to my Youtube Channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQIJfSdp9BKd_lT7254Ho5A
Second Amendment and Cycling Advocate