GroupThink: Alternative Safety Tactics

A constant topic here at Commute by Bike is ways to stay safe during our two wheeled travels. There are lots of common ones such as blinky lights, helmets, signaling, etc. However in recent comments on our posts I’ve seen a couple of unique ones:

Ghost Rider: I mounted a yardstick as a joke to the back of my bike when Florida passed the three-foot rule here. It is really not that much room, but the photographs make it look like a generous space.

The joke yardstick I mounted is two-sided”friendly and mean:

Friendly side:

Mean side:

gazer: […] there is usually at least one dingbat a week that feels that he or she has to prove that you “don’t belong in the road.”

This week, I’m wearing a yellow t-shirt with ARMY in huge block letters on the back. So far, no dingbats. Hmmmm.

So what alternative safety tactics do you use? Leave them in the comments to help your fellow commuters out with ideas!

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0 thoughts on “GroupThink: Alternative Safety Tactics”

  1. Noah says:

    Mexican Carrying a Desert Eagle seems to work quite nicely. 😛

  2. Ghost Rider says:

    Thanks for the shout-out — it was meant as a joke, but it actually worked!

    Oh, Noah…don’t forget your amazing pirate flag — swab the deck with those scurvy motorists.

    Anyone figured out how to mount a streetsweeper-type shotgun to handlebars so that it pivots from side to side?

  3. Noah says:

    Avast, Ghost Rider, I’ve forgotten ye-olde Jolly Roger. Aye, she did keep the scallywags away that fine day, matey!

  4. Fritz says:

    I missed the yard stick and pirate flag earlier. Those are awesome!

  5. Jennifer says:

    The Christmas lights were working for a while.

    It seems that anything out of the ordinary will cause most people to hesitate and give you room because they don’t know what else to expect from you.

  6. Ed W says:

    I keep an old fashioned infantry pike attached to my bike with a realistic human head constructed of fiberglass mounted on top. A piece of hamburger in the mouth every few days helps provide realism due to the swarms of flies. Passing motorists give me lots of room and when we all reach an intersection at the same time, I can hear the whine of windows rolling up and the clicking of myriad door locks. i just smile and wave, especially to the kids. Sometime the cars jump the red light to put some extra space between us.

    One downside is the occasional tailwind. I gotta find something to attract the flies but doesn’t reek like rotten hamburger.

  7. jason (sd) says:

    My LBS owner says he rides to the right, but when he hears someone coming up to pass, keep an eye on the mirror to, he will then swerve to the left a few feet and then right back to the right again, to keep from getting hit by the one that is not paying attention. The drivers think you are not in control and give you a wide birth.

  8. Matt S says:

    I once saw someone taking the lane, with a red blinky in front and a white blinky in back. Because the motorists thought they were going to hit her head on, cars slowed down to her speed, until they realized she was riding with the traffic, and then passed very carefully.

    Although this strategy might end up pissing people off, and is possibly illegal.

  9. welshcyclist says:

    The more I ride my bike in traffic, the more I realise that there is a large percentage of car/lorry drivers who don’t know what to do when confronted with a cyclist. Their impatience in traffic is astounding and they will overtake with only the smallest of space between their vehicle, an oncoming vehicle and the poor cyclist, it’s almost as if they consider that the cyclist is “expendible”, who can legitimately be knocked aside, in order to make room for the oncoming vehicle. I believe the best tactic is to claim the lane in these circumstances, and not be pollte enough to allow the cars in your rear to pass, it brings on the usual shouts of abuse, but I’d prefer that to ending up in the gutter.

  10. Fritz says:

    I see cyclists who do the wrong-way lights on occasion. It’s stupid and it’s dangerous not only to them and motorists, but also to cyclists like me who use these visual cues to determine their direction of travel.

    Imagine you’re stopped at an intersection waiting to turn right. You look left and all you see is a red blinky light, so you proceed and them *blam* that idiot with the red blinky on front hits you. If you’re driving a car, the wrong-way blinky cyclist is dead or injured. If you’re on a bike, you’re the one who is likely injured and with a damaged bike.

  11. Fritz says:

    Oh, alternative safety tricks: I’ve done American flags, fluorescent orange flags, flash sticks, white pants (to increase night visibility), Christmas lights, etc etc etc.

    My Raleigh has a Lightman xenon strobe with a yellow lens mounted permanently to it, along with 4 assorted red blinkies (including the one mounted on my helmet). On that bike people have told me I look like a construction barrier at night, and nobody wants to hit those.

  12. Tim Grahl says:

    Fritz: White pants? Is that on your way home from disco night?

  13. Fritz says:

    This *was* in the 80s. 🙂

    I see a woman on my commute route with bright yellow pants. I haven’t seen her in a while. Over the past month or so I’ve also seen a guy who wears a full face motorcycle helmet while he very slowly rides his full suspension Wal Mart bike.

  14. Jim Carson says:

    My headlight’s mounted on my helmet. When riding with it on, if I hear a car coming, I’ll tilt my head slightly so it shines left of where I am, often resulting in getting more space as they pass.

    Otherwise, I try to ride very predictably. If I need to take the lane, I take the center of the lane. I question the usefulness and intent of people who ride with the lights on the wrong side or deliberately swerve.

  15. Ghost Rider says:

    The helmet-mounted headlight is great — you can swing your head from side to side as you point the light directly at an oncoming or turning car’s windshield, and they WILL see you that way…

    White pants, eh? Wow. Maybe I’ll try an Elvis jumpsuit with sequins — you might be onto something here, Fritz!

    Jennifer, did the Christmas lights stop working for you? I still have some mounted on one of my bikes, and they work wonders — folks really give me room (unless they pull up alongside to say things like “where ya headed, Santa?”).

  16. Girl Jen says:

    I think I’m going to steal one of the traffic safety vests from work. They’re emblazoned with a star of life and “EMS” on the back.

    Ghost Rider, the correct answer to that question (“where ya headed, Santa?”) is always “Your mom’s house.”

  17. Anonymous says:

    Re: X-mas lights, yeah, I think they shorted out or something. They were just a little cheapie set from Walgreens with “INDOOR USE ONLY” printed all over the package.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Anything protruding from you or your bicycle that could cause damage to a vehicle passing too closely will generally give you more space between you and the passing vehicle. The people who pass you dangerously do not give a *$&@ about you; they do, however, care about the possibility of scratches on their precious vehicle.

  19. Peter says:

    The idea I had, too evil to ever implement, was to place a wick or brush at the end of the stick with brake fluid on it. Absolutely no harm can be done exept to the paintwork of a vehicle getting too close. Only of use in retribution. Better to prevent.
    Research says not wearing a helmet might help and there is the “Mary Poppins effect”.
    An idea I have been wanting to try is to dress as a childrens crossing traffic warden. Where I am this is a flouro vest with a white hat. It would be interesting to see if this might discombobulate our bike helmet police also.

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