Stayin alive- thoughts about the big Cascade rides.

Flying Wheels is nearly here, then the Stp, RSVP,High Pass,and the  Kitsap Color.

Love 'em all.

But, I've seen people riding the short version of those rides. That's when you start on a bike, but finish in a aid car.
So to avoid that, here's some thoughts.
Remember that I'm not an expert, my first Cascade ride was the Chilly Hilly in 1988, and I've only rode Stp 21 times, most of which was a Ride Ref or Medical Team.

Situational awareness is paramount. You have a legal responsibility for duty of care, which is to look where you're going and not endanger anyone else.
Keep your head on a swivel, don't fixate your vision. You want to scan the road ahead, near and far, side to side, and keep a mirror check. With so many people around you, things happen fast, so you want to be able to see and plan for that 'what if'. You would be surprised how many people I've seen  ride into bollards on the trail sections, into chuck holes, and other people.

Look into turns. Watch and you'll see that most people don't. Their line of focused vision seems to stay aligned with their top tubes. When you look into the direction you are going to turn before you turn you have more time to react to that nail, broken glass, or the person who just passed you without warning.

   Which leads us to making others aware of where you are, and what you intend to do. CALL OUT!
If you are going to pass someone, here's the progression, coming up from behind you want to let them know you are behind them, call out ON YER WHEEL! Followed by ON YER LEFT! before you ride past them.

If you are stopping or a light or sign it's STOPPPING!

If you need to stop to adjust something or dig out that energy bar- don't just stop in the middle of the road. Guess what, there are 9,999 other people on this ride, and they might not like you very much if you stop in front of them. If you need to stop, signal, pull over off the road and stop.

Which brings us to signaling. DO signal IF it is safe to do so. What I have found is the most easily seen is to simply point in the direction you are turning. Left arm for left turns, right arm for right turns. That right arm signal is legal, and it's easier seen than the bent left arm signal, and too many people don't even know what the bent left arm means. People can see the right arm for right turn signal  behind you on your right side better than the bent left arm, and the folks on your right are the one you really want to know you're turning. I like to wave my hand a bit when signaling and add a voiced LEFT TURN, RIGHT TURN as well.
When you are passing someone, remember to look behind you BEFORE you move over to pass. You do have a legal obligation to yield to people if you are changing lanes, cutting people off leads to chain reaction crashes.

And speaking of chain reactions......pacelines.
Be careful of who you paceline with. Lot's of ad hoc groups form up, and not everyone in them are experinced riding in them. If the group seems the least bit dodgy, back out of that group. Keep your distance from the person in front of you, you don't need or want to be two inches off their wheel, you will not have time to react.
Don't overlap wheels, or ride to the side with half your front wheel next to their rear wheel. If they move over and hit your front wheel, you are going to crash.
If you are riding in a paceline and passing others, EVERYBODY in that paceline should call out ON YER LEFT. I've seen some amazing crashes because the passer didin't hear anyone behind, didn't look behind, and moved over.

Anyway, just some thoughts. I'll be seeing you......and I hope you see me.
gears to you....leo


Spot on with your comments.  I follow the advice given, and on Sat, it seemed that the crowds were bigger than normal and I was extra cautious.  But when the guy in front dropped his water bottle coming west from Duval, I yelled out that he dropped it.  A moment later he hits the brakes and turns left without any signal.  I went down in a heap after braking hard but ending up touching his rear wheel.  I thought I had dropped back far enough after he dropped the bottle, but the sharp braking and left hook caught me by surprise.  Thanks to all who stopped, there was Charlie, (day job = Harborview, lucky on my part to have skilled hands right there) and the ride ref who called 911.  Thanks to the Duval fire department for hauling my sorry self to the ER in Issaquah.  I'm pleased to report that nothing was broken.  The "shoulder distortion" that was a concern at the scene was just an enormous swelling that has already gone.  I'm more disappointed that I could not finish the ride on such a beautiful day.  Coming back from Issaquah we had a chance to experience this ride from a driver's side.  Let me tell you, it was tense.  Groups squeezing out into traffic without any signaling and rarely even looking.  Hey, let's act predictable out there.

There was a biker down at the base of the hill on 244th, about mile 16.  Aid car was there, and fire truck was on its way.  Does anyone know how the rider is doing?

Glad you're OK. I hate falling down, and from someone else to cause it just ticks me off. The last time for me was at the first Brews Cruise ride. I'm waiting at a stop light, guy pulls up next to me and promptly falls over on me. No beer in either one of us. Didn't even say I'm sorry, or are you/your bike OK? I'm in the Ride Ref jersey too. Good thing I protected my bike with my body.

Good that there was medical help and a Ref there for you. We could use more Ref's and Medical Riders.

One more thought about collisions. The law is the same on bikes as it is with motor vehicles. Hit and run laws apply. Leaving the scene is a  class 2 felony.
If you get tangled up, exchange information, just like you would with cars. You really want to do the right thing. Going to jail for a hit and run might ruin your summer, and it's nice to be able to vote, own a firearm, get a passport. Felonies pretty much ruin your credit score and employment too.

It's a good idea to have a talk with your Insurance Agent over coverage.  Having a plan to deal with someones medical/bike repair in the case of a collision is money and time well spent.
Parts of  my coverage are under my car insurance and others under my home owners. YMMV, but my home owers gives me replacement for my bike in case it's totaled. Depends on what insurance  you buy.

Glad you're OK.
Gears to you....leo

Thanks for the reminder about coverage in a bike to bike accident.  I did an insurance review a couple of years ago and it was only Farmers that included Under/Un-insured coverage for me if a car hits me.  That is, with the minimum insurance in WA at only $25,000, it is easy that car hits you and his insurance maxes out after 2 days in Harborview.  So I confirmed that my Farmer's coverage will pay the difference to my max $1million.  I had a broker check other plans and this coverage is not normal.  Now I have to check if another bike is treated like a "vehicle" for the purposes of this clause.  And always WEAR that helmet...  without it I would still be in Harborview...  now off to the bike store to get a new one...  RIP my trusted helmet.

I had a guy in front of me drop his bottle and slam on the brakes as well, but overall, the event was "un-eventful."  The weather was so fantastic, I (almost) didn't mind that last big hill.

Cascade needs to make a video with you narrating this stuff, Leo. Post it on YouTube and include the link in the ride page and the event emails. Not enough people are going to find what you say buried in these forums.


> You would be surprised how many people I've seen  ride into bollards on the trail sections


Can we really say that this is that entirely the fault of the riders who hit the bollards? To be fair, it can very likely be the fault of the cyclists in front of you when they fail to call out the hazard and dodge it at the last second. It raises the question as to whether the risks the bollards are mitigating (keeping motor vehicles off the trails?) is worth the injuries and property damage that they inevitably cause whenever you play the numbers game. There are policy and route mitigations that we can put into place that can result in fewer incidents, and they will be more effective than just repeating, "Don't ride into bollards, dummies!" every time it happens.


After having had terrible experiences every time on the trails, I now completely avoid them for the congested parts of the big rides. I'll plan out a parallel route on the roads. The start of RSVP on the Burke-Gilman is one of the most notorious offenders; I always join up at Wilmot.

Submitted by Unknown on

Most bollard accidents are in large part the fault of the jurisdiction that owns/maintains the trail.

Following-rider accidents are quite common -- the bollard is low enough to be hidden from view by the cyclist in front, so the following rider has only moments to react when the bollard becomes visible.  This is a well-known, well-documented form of accident, and there are clear specifications for bollard installations to reduce the risk.  Few, if any, trail systems on the STP route bother to comply with these standards, even though they're mandatory under Federal law.

Many trails are designed and maintained by parks departments, not transportation agencies, and many are simply unaware that Title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 655.603 states that the MUTCD is the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway, or bicycle trail open to public travel.  

I believe it would be a positive step for Cascade to actively review planned routes for hazardous, noncompliant bollard installations, contact those jurisdictions in advance to point out the hazards and note the failure to comply with MUTCD requirements, and, if the trails aren't brought up to standard, have the same team that sprays route markings apply temporary traffic tape to create the hazard warning stripes the bollards are supposed to have.

MUTCD specifies that bollards must be conspicuous day and night (brightly painted and reflectorized), and should be set off by hazard striping with a centerline that extends well before the bollard itself, so that the centerline becomes visible in advance, even if the bollard itself is hidden by a leading rider.

In its guidance on trail access, FHWA notes:

  • Even "properly" installed bollards constitute a serious and potentially fatal safety hazard to unwary trail users. In addition, no bollard layout that admits bicycles, tricycles, and bicycle trailers can exclude single-track motor vehicles such as motorcycles and mopeds. For these reasons, bollards should never be a default treatment, and should not be used unless there is a documented history of intrusion by unauthorized cars, trucks, or other unauthorized vehicles.