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    It has been a terrible week for cyclists in the Ottawa area–5 bad accidents with two of them resulting in deaths, in just 4 days. You’d think cycling was akin to playing Russian Roulette.

    It’s not, but certainly and obviously, it is not without risk.

    How do you lower those risks? I suggest the following:

    Obey the law.
    Look where you are going, and far enough up the road that you can anticipate obstacles (potholes, parked cars, turning vehicles, etc) BEFORE you have to take emergency action to avoid them.
    Be aware of the fact that if you turn your head to look at something, your bike will likely turn the same way, at least a little bit. Work on being able to turn your head/shoulder check without it affecting your steering.
    When approaching any intersection, pay attention. Cars may not!
    Use your hearing for a clue cars may be approaching from behind.
    Shoulder check often–listen, look, listen, look,listen. Personally, I do this at almost every intersection.
    Signal your turns and stops. You only need to get the point across—a quick point is fine, then get your hands back on the handlebars, near the brakes.
    Stay on your side of the road. You are legally entitled to be 1m of the edge of the road, so this should put you outside the sewers.
    Passing a car any time is a very risky practice and especially so if you are not paying attention to the motorists’ actions. Drivers don’t often think a cyclist will be edging by on their right.
    Keep your hands on the brake levers when going through intersections, or whenever there is a possibility you will have to stop quickly.
    When riding with parked cars on the road, look into the driver’s seat to make sure there is no one there. If there is someone in the driver’s seat, they may be ready to get out of the car, so go wide enough to be safe. If you are in a group, be sure to signal your intention to go wide.
    Behave predictably, so that others know what you are going to do
    Try to make eye contact with motorists at intersections to determine whether they see you.
    Be prepared to give up the right of way if a motorist makes a mistake that could hurt you, but…
    Be assertive in taking your place on the road
    Move to the left lane to make left turns. Do this well before the turn.
    When a car passes you going in the same direction near an intersection, look at their turn signals and brake lights. If they are on, expect a right turn and back off.
    When riding on two lane roads, watch oncoming traffic for a sign that cars may be coming up behind you—if the oncoming cars move over to their right, they may be giving cars behind you some extra space to pass.
    Be courteous and respectful to others you meet on the road.
    Don’t swarm motorists (or other cyclists) at STOP signs and lights.
    Help motorists pass in difficult spots.
    Be aware of cars behind; don’t make it impossible for them to pass.
    When stopped at red light beside a large vehicle I know will pass me soon after the light turns green, I either let them go first or move out of their way, allowing them to pass on MY terms, not theirs.

    I hope this helps.

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