As alluded to in my last post, there are two commonly asked questions whenever we discuss riding our recumbent trikes … well, anywhere, not just cross-country. The first, as you have already seen is, “Why not a bike?” The second question usually looks like this, “Wow, that looks comfortable, but dangerous. I could never ride that low to the ground. Aren’t you afraid of not being seen by car and truck drivers? (Click title to read the full post)
Here is the short answer, “No!”
Here is the philosophical answer, commonly attributed to Samuel Clemens (aka, Mark Twain) and now mangled by me:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did. So add on a third wheel, ride away from the safe places. Catch the transcontinental winds at your back. Explore. Dream. Discover.
The quite a bit longer answer (but not doctoral thesis longer) is, “Yes, we are concerned, but we are confident that we can lower the risk by making ourselves and our trikes more visible.” We also believe from our riding experience so far, that much of the concern our upright riding friends have is unfounded for recumbent trikes.
I know, you’re probably saying, “What the what?”
Here’s what I mean. Upright road riding bicyclists are constantly aware of the “three foot” rule, which requires motorized vehicles to give us pedal pushers a minimum of three feet clearance when they pass us. Too frequently, it seems like the only ones who know this rule are the ones riding a bike. There are too many close calls for sure and many cyclists have been injured and worse! So it’s easy to leap to the conclusion that if drivers aren’t giving three feet to two-wheeled bikes, what’s gonna happen when a trike that has a nearly 32″ width gets on the road? It must be even more dangerous, right?
Our experience has been that drivers have become habituated to seeing two-wheeled bikes on the road and as a result they shave that three foot rule pretty close, but our trikes are so unusual, that drivers routinely give us a wider berth. We speculate that they may also think we may have a disability issue. When riding with our two-wheeled friends we have even seen where a driver will give us an entire lane, only to then give our pedaling friends 35 inches!
Of course, we also know that we must be seen! So with Lucia taking the lead, we are constantly working on making our mobility devices more visible.
Flags, lights, and high-vis reflectors, helmets, gloves and tops are all part of the arsenal. Another is sound, so like many other riders we have very loud horns on our trikes.
What’s coming from behind?
We need to be able to see, so rear-view mirrors are a must. We will each have two mirrors so we can see behind us on each side.
Oh, and one more thing which is not intuitively obvious. A trike is just more stable, with a low center of gravity, so while potholes, trash, sticks, and side wind can cause us to inadvertently swerve like an upright, we are mostly going to have more control which makes those close encounters between car and trike less likely.
Our biggest worry?
Yep, you guessed it …
We can only hope that by staying alert, plus adding our safety measures, that our challenges can be successfully met.
Keep on rolling!