“Salmoning” and Other Bike Safety No-No’s

Biking is a popular sport in Chandler, which has been named one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US. And thus, discussion of bike safety is of supreme importance.

But where bikes and cars mix, there are going to be accidents.

When a bicycle collides with a car, the car usually “wins.”  According to the Arizona Crash Facts Summary published by the Arizona Department of Transportation, out of 2,000 car-bike accidents in 2012, 81% resulted in injuries.  18 of those accidents were fatal.

In the wake of Alec Baldwin’s recent arrest in New York after he was ticketed for riding his bicycle the wrong way down a one-way street – and then became belligerent with officers – NPR ran a story on the entertaining vocabulary of bike safety.

Bike Safety: Salmoning

“Salmoning” is related to what Baldwin was ticketed for.  It means going against the stream in a one-way bike lane.

Bike Safety: Door Zone

The door zone is what you want to stay out of when you’re riding a bike.  It’s the space next to a parked car into which the door opens.  If the door opens into the cyclist’s path, he or she can get “doored.”  This can lead to severe injuries or even death, especially if the cyclist isn’t wearing a helmet.

Arizona drivers are required by law to make sure it’s safe before opening a car door into a roadway, but that doesn’t mean everyone obeys the law.

Bike Safety: Sharrow

A “sharrow” is a symbol painted on the pavement showing a cyclist and a couple of chevrons.  It warns drivers that they’re sharing the road with bicycles.

Bike Safety: Ninja

A ninja is a person who rides at night wearing dark clothes and without using lights.

This isn’t just a bad idea (unless you’re planning to storm a warlord’s castle, in which case you have bigger things to worry about). It’s also illegal.

Bikes are required by Arizona law to have a white front headlight and a rear red reflector when being ridden at night.

Bike Safety: Shoaling

“Shoaling” happens when one rider approaches another rider who is stopped at a red light.  The polite and safe thing for the second rider to do is to stop behind the first rider.  Instead, the second rider may “shoal” by passing the first rider, even if this means entering the intersection before stopping.

(In biology, “shoaling” refers to the behavior a group of fish who swim together for social reasons.  In bicycling, it only takes two to shoal.)

To learn more about bike safety, please visit our bicycle accident page or get a bike law and bicycle safety brochure here.