Thursday, January 5, 2012

Amy's Ride - Geelong

The Amy's Ride Geelong was run and done for 2012, and I sit back with an ice cold drink to cool down it's a good time to reflect on the intent of this event.

Many of you are aware that Amy Gillett tragically lost her life to a vehicle accident six years ago.  She was an accomplished rider and much loved not only in Geelong, but amongst the greater cycling community.  The Amy Gillett Foundation has strived to become the pre-eminent cycling safety organisation in Australia, by lobbying for greater cyclist's rights including the popular "A Metre Matters" campaign.

As part of their awareness program, the foundation has worked in conjuction with the Jayco Bay Criterium series to co-run an annual cycling event in early January, starting and finishing amongst professional riders vying for the Bay Series Criterium championship.  The event attracts over 3,000 amateur cyclists and covers terrain often used by Tour De France champion Cadel Evans during his formative years.  The event serves to raise awareness for the Amy Gillett Foundation, and promote rider safety initatives.

The ride itself was good fun and hard work given the conditions, but I think it's more important to focus on what the ride is trying to achieve, rather than our achievements on the day.

Following on from the fantastic work that the foundation performs, I thought it would be an apt time to discuss what it means to "ride safely".  What you'll read below is nothing new, and is information that I've collected through personal experience and research. 

1. Protect yourselfWear protection commensurate to your surroundings.  I.E. there'd be little need for elbowpads on the bike path, but I'd be donning a full-face helmet when hurtling down the side of a craggy mountain.  Helmets, gloves, sunglasses and closed shoes are all items that should be considered when heading out.

2. Anticipate your surroundingsIf you're riding on the road, be on the lookout for cars pulling out of side streets or car park spots.  Bike paths also have their fair share of obstacles, and prepare yourself to manouver around pedestrians and other path users.

3. Ride PredictablyFollowing on from the previous topic, ride in a manner that is predictable - don't swerve at the last minute to avoid a parked car or shared path user, instead slowly move around the obstacle from a suitable distance so that other users of your space are not startled by your movements.  Remember, not all road and path users will be as alert as you are!

4. Ride bigThis topic could easily deserve it's own blog post, but when the moment calls for it, consume the lane.  If there is no safe way to share the lane with motorised traffic, ride closer to the centre of the lane to avoid cars pushing you off the road.  This is particularly useful when lanes are merging or when descending.

The motto that the Amy Gillett Foundation encourages is "A Metre Matters" - this goes for yourself as well as motorists.  Make sure you have left a metre between yourself and the edge of the road or parked cars as this will help minimise vehicles pushing you out of your lane if they attempt to overtake you.

5. Be visibleHaving adequate lighting on your bicycle is imperative.  The ability to alert people to your presence is the most effective way to avoid being rear-ended, or achieve the dreaded SMIDSY* accident (*Sorry Mate, I Didn't See You).  You may think that lighting is only necessary for night time riding, but it can also be effective in inclement weather, and even during daylight hours.  You'd be surprised at how much attention a decent flashing light can garner, particularly during typical commuting times.

Wearing dark clothes can also make you blend in with your surroundings.  Having a light-coloured top to contrast against dark paths is great, and wearing fluorescent or reflective vests would be ideal.

Happy new year to everyone, may you keep the rubber side down and enjoy the freedom of pedalling two (or one, or three) wheels!

For more information on the Amy Gillet Foundation and their rides visit:

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