Bike safety with Chuck Gillis

Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Making high quality community journalism isn’t free — please consider supporting our journalism by subscribing to the News + Record today.

Unlimited Digital Access begins at $4.67/month

Print + Digital begins at $6.58/month


The other weekend while riding my bike through the beautiful backroads of Chatham, I had the unfortunate encounter not once, not twice, but three near hits by vehicles. In general, cyclist’s safety can be a toss-up, even when the proper steps are taken. Here’s a few things to get both drivers and cyclists on the same page.

Turn Signals: Yes, even cyclists can utilize turn signals. There are two directions you’ll find out in the wild, left and right — all are done by the left arm. For a left turn, properly extend your left arm out towards the left side of the road, indicating your intent to turn that direction by pointing. For a right turn, it’s proper to keep the upper left arm horizontal while extending your forearm and finger upwards. Both turn signals require 100 feet of pre-indication — notifying drivers and other vehicles with ample time to react/slow down.

Stopping: This will again be using the left hand to indicate; to do so, keep your upper arm horizontal with your forearm and hand pointed downward. It’s pretty simple, but can be forgotten or missed if a driver of a vehicle is not paying attention. For this you’ll want to indicate 100 feet in advance in order to allow vehicles ample time to react properly.

Gear: Turn signals are the icing on the cake, but the best thing any cyclist can do before riding is making sure their gear is safe and ready for a ride. This includes checks on proper helmet fitting, eyewear, cycling shoes, pedals, seat ride-height, lights and mirrors, if you use them. There are several resources online for sizing a helmet, bike frame and cycling shoes properly.

Lastly, here are a few of Chuck’s favorite tips:

1. Keep your bike clean and the drive train lubricated.

2. Check your bike’s tire pressure and brakes each time you plan to ride.

3. On country/suburban roads, ride about a foot from the white line on your right and practice riding a very straight and predictable (to motorists) line.

4. When approaching a car at an intersection, try to establish eye contact with the driver. If this is not possible, assume the motorist does not see you and proceed cautiously.

5. Stop at all traffic signals.

6. In city traffic, claim your space by riding about six feet out from parked cars. Allow room for passengers opening their doors.

7. When making a left turn, plan ahead of your turn and move over into the left side of the lane so you can execute your turn.

8. Use a flashing red light mounted on the back of your bike whenever you ride.

For state DOT cycling laws, refer to G.S. 20-154, 20-129(e) and 20-146.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here