This cycling tip could save your life: Look over your left shoulder before you change your position on the road.
You can be turning left, or turning right. You can be changing position in the road to go around a parked delivery truck or other obstacle. You can be changing position in the road as a part of a multi-lane shift.
Every time, check over your left shoulder.
Different programs have even branded the shoulder check. I'm a CAN-BIKE instructor, and the CAN-BIKE brand is the Lifesaving Shoulder Check (or LSC).
The LSC is a three-part package:
- A shoulder check to see who or what is behind you, to hopefully make eye contact wit the motorist behind or at least cue the motorist behind that you are looking behind you before you do something.
- The hand signal.
- A SECOND shoulder check to ensure it is safe to change position, because circumstances behind a cyclist can change quickly, and the cyclist wants assurance that the negotiation to change position has been acknowledged.
The Cycling Into the Future program, delivered to many Grade 5 students in Waterloo Region, brands the package as the Signal Sandwich: the shoulder check is a slice of bread, the signal is the contents of the sandwich, and the second shoulder check is the second piece of bread.
The province of Ontario's Cycling Skills handbook just refers to Shoulder Checking and Signalling, but in boldface type says, "always shoulder check before signalling to make a turn, and, again, just before making the turn."
It would seem to be a no-brainer. After all, motorists always check their blind spots before changing their position on the road, right?
Sadly, not. Which leads to collisions.
Those kind of highway scrapes and bruises only damage vehicles. For cyclists, the damage can be much greater.
I regularly see both student cyclists and apparent road veterans who check over their shoulder once, signal and then begin to change position in the road.
Some are even changing position or turning as they use their hand signals.
Signal your intentions, not your achievements!
It could save your life.