Q. What are the most dangerous times on a trike? The safest?
A. There are situations that clearly demand strict attention while triking, and there are others where our minds can wander and enjoy the scenery without concern. What generally constitutes danger? The major issue above all others is an inattentive motorist powering a two or three ton hunk of steel down the road at very fast speeds, or a driver emerging from a side street or parking space! The vast majority of drivers have no idea how deadly their actions can be, and for many, driving becomes so mundane day in and day out that they often engage in self-distracting activities while behind the wheel.
When triking through open country, where the road allows unobstructed views, motorists can readily observe the trike long before getting close to it, even if they’re talking on their cell phone or text messaging. In this situation, the driver has plenty of time to assess what is being seen, and nearly always provides a wide margin of room when overtaking. Being seen in advance is the key to remaining safe.
In the United States (driving on right side of road), one of the most vulnerable times for a trike pilot is when negotiating a blind right curve in tight mountains. This is a narrow sharp curve that bends to the right, where little to no shoulder exists, and unless a following motorist sees you enter the blind right, he could come speeding around it and there you are. Much of the time, drivers will see you ride into the curve, and know in advance to slow down. If you are already engaged with traffic, this is a plus, as they know you’re in there. If a blind right is imminent, and traffic is way back, you may be advised to wait until they all pass, or if the amount of traffic is heavy, just make sure the lead car sees you enter the curve. Most drivers cut curves on the inside, further making blind rights in mountains a notorious issue. Left-hand curves are different. You can usually be seen, and drivers who cut the inside are doing so away from you.
Other problem areas are on city streets, where parked cars obstruct everyone’s view. If you’re riding along a long line of parked cars, you may be well advised to “take your lane” as you are entitled to do in most jurisdictions, keeping away from opening doors and quickly emerging cars. If things are really bad, I have been known to use the sidewalk! I will vigorously defend my usage to any police officer who might confront me, and I would rather be alive to explain my actions of riding on a sidewalk than dead or injured just to follow the letter of the law!
One final thought here: Don’t argue with an errant motorist who thinks you have no right on “his” road – remain focused on the fun of the trike and all the other drivers who are always respectful. The problem lies with him, not you. Your pride is not worth endangering your well being. Let it go. Move on. Enjoy the ride! You will feel better for it.
These trike pilots are practicing safe driving skills (Greenspeed and HP Velotechnik). Notice how well the yellow colors appear from behind. Yellow is the most visible color. The lead Greenspeed trike has a bright yellow mesh seat, and on the HP Velotechnik, the rider has yellow Arkel panniers, a yellow safety triangle, and then tops it off with a yellow helmet.