Cycling Culture 101: Gestures and Hacks for Surviving on India’s Roads and Growing the Tribe
Cyclists in India are organizing.
That is such an exciting thing – we’re seeing city Bicycle Mayors, dedicated cycle tracks, increased demand for cycles. We need more, of course, there is so much potential benefit to increased cycling (a TERI study showed that if we can even substitute half our trips under 8km to cycles, the country will benefit by almost 2 Trillion rupees, 1.6% of the GDP!). There’s also the very potent fact that it’s fun!
It’s a no-brainer that we want more cycling. Do join cycling groups in the city, celebrate small wins and lobby for better bicycle lanes.
In the meanwhile, what can we do as a cycling community to take care of our people?
Identifying key obstacles to safety and working out agreed-upon gestures and hacks to overcome will go a long way.
Intersections and Red Lights: Cyclist entering a road or crossing at a red light are particularly vulnerable to accidents. Remember – you’re basically invisible to a motorized vehicle puffing along in a hurry. Make eye contact, make your movements deliberate and predictable, watch for their turn signals and signs of slowing to turn, and follow all norms of traffic rules – that means giving right of way to traffic on wider roads and yes folks, we HAVE to stop at red lights!
Congested Roads: Until we get blanket coverage of dedicated bicycle lanes (wouldn’t that be great!) we need to live with what we have. Making yourself visible and aggressively indicating your intentions will go a long way. Below are some common signals that we can all agree to for turning, stopping, slowing down and allowing to pass.
Choosing the path less taken: We can’t control irrational and uncontrolled drivers, but we can avoid some of the most obvious dangers. Faster roads, highways etc while tempting to ride-on are also a lot more dangerous to cyclists. Studies show that getting hit by a car travelling at less than 50km results is far less dangerous to our lives (<20% mortality) than getting hit by a car travelling at 80km (60% mortality). We also obviously need to support the current campaign to get a national cap on speed limits in urban areas.
Carry an ID and an Unlocked Phone with Emergency Number: If you’re riding alone, and in an accident, it would help a lot if your family could be immediately notified of the accident by a helpful passerby
Emergency Protocol: In case you or a friend are in an accident
1) Secure everyone’s safety. Don’t move the hurt person if you suspect a back or neck injury, but make sure you place bicycles and gear to ward off further traffic
2) Ask around if anyone is qualified for basic first aid
3) Call 100 to get an ambulance if necessary and
4) Take photos and videos of the scene of the accident.
We’re glad you are thinking in advance of these scenarios. To build a strong culture of cycling in India, we need to focus on safety first.
Do consider insurance as well for your cycle to protect it from theft and accidental damage. Toffee sells insurance at a fraction of the price of the bike.