Bicycling in and around Sullivan County, NY

Accident Avoidance
by Andrew Kalter

I have seen more blood already this year than last and wanted to give some crash avoidance tips.  Maybe this will help prevent some accidents. 

Prevention of Accidents:
Anytime you are riding, you should always be aware of an escape route.  In an emergency you can react quicker if you already have a plan.
When riding slowly in a group there is no advantage to being in a tight paceline.  Give yourself plenty of room and plan which side you will swerve to if there is an accident.
When approaching a stop sign or traffic light, EXPECT the person in front to stop.   They have the best view and it is their decision.
Slow down and speed up gradually.
Don’t lead other riders into road debris and pot holes.

During “The Crash” your 1st goal is to avoid hitting the crashing rider and then not to hit or get hit by anyone else.
Don’t swerve violently or hit your brakes too hard.  It may sound terrible but correct braking will slow you down faster than a person sliding on their skin.
The goal is to hit your brakes just hard enough and swerve just enough to miss the crash.  Once again, you should know ahead of time if you are going to swerve right or left.
After you pass the crash, slow to a stop gradually and make sure it is safe to go before making a u-turn and causing another accident.

Proper Braking Techniques:
Your front brake should provide 75% of your stopping power.
Under hard braking shift your weight back.
Try to get as much braking in before you lean into a turn.
Release your brakes as you go through holes or over bumps.  Having your front brake on multiplies the impact force when your tire rolls though something.

If you come into a turn too fast and realize you are not going to make it:
Lose as much speed as possible on the pavement.
Straighten the bike out of your lean, release at least the front brake but preferably both, and pick a good off-road route.  I have seen multiple crashes because riders were afraid to go off road.  At the very least you will lose more speed and it is better to fall on dirt than pavement.
Once the bike is stable and upright you can start braking again.

Last year I misjudged a turn and left the road at high speed.  I must have gone 50 feet into the woods and up a steep hill.  Not once did I touch my brakes.

Final note on braking:
If you are braking correctly your rear brake pads should last twice as long as the fronts. 

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