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Safety Basics with Dru Satori

Samantha Wotiz | Published on 10/17/2021

Dru Satori is a passionate cycling enthusiast and promotor of all two wheeled forms of transportation. He has over 100,000 miles in the saddle and bike commutes to work 3 days a week. If you find him in a car you will spot him in a red, smart car convertible.

First, a shout to out Dru Satori, a local group ride leader and ambassador for Bike Law. He took the time to chat with me about some ‘common sense’ safety suggestions for cyclists. Most of these tips are aimed at road cyclists or commuters but can be applied to other disciplines.

Dru’s first recommendation was to know the rules of the road. Each state will have varying laws regarding how and when and where a person can ride on the road/off the road. The suggestions of this article may vary by state.

For Georgia (and most southeastern states) a cyclist must ride on the road going WITH the flow of traffic. While runners run against traffic cyclists need to ride on the right side of the road and follow all traffic laws. Bicycles are considered a vehicle and must obey all road signs. Regarding riding on sidewalks—adults are not permitted to ride on sidewalks (unless it is a multi use path). So next time someone demands that bikes should stick to the sidewalk you can let them know that in the state of Georgia it is not legally permitted for adults to ride on the sidewalk. In Florida the laws governing sidewalks and bikes are different.

Another law that is common in southeastern states includes language that a cyclist should ride ‘as far right as practicable’. This is often misinterpreted to mean that a cyclist must ride as close to the shoulder of the road as possible. That is not correct. “As far right as is practicable” can be translated to mean ‘as far right as the rider feels comfortable’. Dru explained that there are many reasons why a cyclist legally may ride in the center of the lane—from poor road conditions, to blind corners where traffic may be likely to make an unsafe pass, and more. If someone accuses you of not riding all the way to the right on the road, you can let them know that the law supports your actions.

Lights are legally required when riding in the dark in Georgia. A cyclist must have a working front and rear light. Dru strongly suggested that all cyclists use front and rear lights on their bicycle during all times of the day. He said that studies have shown that using lights in the daytime reduce crashes. During the winter/dark conditions several local group rides require that all cyclists have working lights in order to ride with them. This is for safety and follows the law.

Women should pay special attention to their surroundings when riding. Unfortunately any lone rider could be a target for thieves. Women may consider riding in groups in order to be better seen by motorists and to protect their individual selves from danger.

Helmets are not required in the state of Georgia for riding a bicycle but they are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED. No one plans to have ‘an accident’ or a crash. Crashes can be caused by a careless driver, another bike, or even road conditions. Wearing a helmet greatly reduces the risk of death.

Dru’s years of cycling inspired the next set of tips. He recommended to never leave home without a water bottle, to always carry a basic set of bicycle tools, and have a small amount of cash on your person. Dru advocated that you never know how a planned ride will go and that you never want to be stranded without water or a way to transport more. Carrying a basic set of bike tools will allow you to change a flat tire or fix simple mechanicals. The rationale behind having cash on you means that you can purchase snacks or water in case your ride runs long. Alternatively you can use your cash to pay for a ride home should something render your bike unrideable. And these things happen—believe me!

A lot of these tips seem basic. And they are! I advise getting in the habit of following all of these suggestions for every single ride. As the saying goes—an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Riding safely means knowing the local laws, carrying basic supplies, and being prepared for deviations from your plan.