Stay Safe on Rural Roads

Bike on rural road

Pedaling along country roads warrants a specific set of safety considerations. As you roam rural lanes, keep the following in mind.

Don’t expect motorists to see you. In city traffic, dense streets and attentive drivers mean the key to safety is being assertive and using the rhythm of traffic to your advantage. But as your bicycle carries you away from town, the safer place to be becomes the side of the road. Likewise, plan to dodge cars in intersections even when you have the right-of-way.

Look behind you. Glance over your shoulder as you approach every driveway, intersection, and road hazard. Yes, every single one. A common car-on-bike incident is the right hook. This is when a car passes a cyclist, slows to turn right, and obliviously crosses the cyclist’s path on the edge of the street.

Watch for oncoming traffic. Passing motorists often accelerate into the opposite lane without looking for cyclists in their path. Similarly, I shudder to think about how frequently I make fast right turns onto two-lane roads without considering what might be might be fast approaching on the wrong side.

Avoid riding into the sunset. Riding into the sun makes you virtually invisible to motorists. If you’re stuck heading west at the end of the day, try taking a meandering route. And when the sun’s at your back, keep in mind that road users ahead will have difficult time seeing you.

Pause in high-visibility places. Whether you’re changing clothes, fixing a flat, or answering the call of nature, wait until you’re a safe distance from blind corners or hillcrests.

Don’t antagonize motorists. Sure, they might pass to closely, or worse. But on isolated roads, it’s best stay calm and let the incident roll off your back. It’s the only way to stay safe, have fun, and protect our image as cyclists.