Lanterns: Cycling Self-Defense


Cycling Self-Defense

Spring is on its way, and many of us like to get outdoors and exercise. Some walk, others run or hike, but I like to cycle. 

Cycling can be dangerous, and I have to think of my personal safety while I am out riding.  I try to be prepared for any "what ifs" I may encounter and develop a plan for dealing with each and every one of them.  I have had many of the worst cases happen to me.  

How do you protect yourself while riding a bicycle? Well, I spent many hours researching and asking some of the most highly qualified personal defense trainers I know.  What I have learned is there's not much information or classes out there for cyclist self-defense.  What I decided to do was make my own self-defense plan with the information that I found, and practicing it.  

My self-defense plan for cycling is modeled after some of the other plans that I have created in the past.  I used the O.R.R. loop which is the foundation of all my self-defense training.   The O.R.R. stands for observe, recognize, and respond.  It's short and simple, and easy to remember.  

First, observe.  Keep your awareness level up.  I actually place myself in orange, which is higher than where I normally am. (see my article "Creepy Clowns and Situational Awareness for an explanation of the color code).   I observe the actions taken by other people which allow me to recognize any possible threats to my safety.  This recognition allows me to respond to the threat properly.  

How do I protect myself?   I have two GoPros on the bike, one recording everything in the rear and the other recording the front.  This helps because it gives me video evidence of whatever happens, and can help me prove my case to the authorities.  

What about defensive tools?  I carry the following while cycling.  On the bicycle itself, I have a can of OC spray that has a percentage of 12% OC which makes it great not only for people, but it works well for attacking dogs.

I also carry a small Ruger LCP handgun.  

How is it possible to defend oneself with a gun while riding? I went about countless hours of trying many different things to find out what works and what doesn't.  

I began in the stop position, pretending I have been confronted by a threat that has stopped me.  The first thing I will do is get into my modified stance.  My modified stance looks like the following:  I place my weak side foot on the ground and tilt my back to the weak side.  My strong side foot is on the pedal, and the pedal is in the front position. This will give me the chance to escape by pushing down on the pedal quickly and escaping if I need to.  

I place my small LCP in a moisture wick pocket holster in my back cycling jersey pocket.  This places the handgun in the 5 o’clock position which is the natural position for the draw.  All I have to do is draw the gun from my back pocket, extend, aim, and fire.  This stance, draw, and position works great not only for a frontal threat, but in any 360 degrees direction.  All I need to do is change the position of my upper body.  

I am not allowed to carry a firearm some of the places I cycle, so I have OC spray.  I would use it the same way as I would if it was my handgun. However, it's important to take the wind direction into consideration, (the last thing you need is to deploy the OC spray, only to have it come back into your face because of the wind).  

If I am riding, and there is a threat in my route I just escape or evade the threat by riding past it as fast as I can without stopping.  Only after I am sure the threat is behind me, will I stop and notify the police of the incident.  It is imperative that you are no longer in danger.  

Let’s take something that happened to me last summer.  I was cycling down the road trying to stay to the right as much as I could, but like many roads in the USA, they are so many potholes, that I have to watch where I go.  As I was going down the road I heard a vehicle coming up behind me, and I heard the engine rev up, the driver hitting the gas. The vehicle was screaming as it came up on me.  They blasted their horn and yelled profanity and racial terms at me.  As they passed, the driver tried to run me off the road by swerving their vehicle into me.  I stopped because they almost hit me, and the driver stopped, looked at me, and said that the next time I was out on the road, he was going to run me over and kill me.  

I called the police and turned the video over to them.   I never got word about what was or if anything was done about it, but it made me realize one thing--  I AM ON MY OWN!  This is why I had developed my own self-defense plan while I am cycling.  

If you cycle, then you can probably relate to this.  Please take the time to develop your own cycling self-defense plan. It may just save your life!  

If you don’t cycle, then please be kind and patient when you are driving.  Cyclists have the right to be on the road as much as a vehicle. We have the same rights and the same duties.  It's important that we're all safe out there on the roads together.

Curt Andrews

A Second Amendment Advocate and Cyclist

Written by Curt Andrews

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