Today, summer 2011 reaches the midway point, sad for bicyclists because spring and the first half of this season went so fast. Sure, we can pedal through the second half and at least part of winter, and I do, but cold-season cycling is not the same as mid-spring through mid-fall.

So far, my year has created fond bicycling memories, the best, but I have also endured more crashes, tumbles and near-collisions than usual.

However, my strict adherence to 10 safety rules helped avoid most mishaps.

I’d like to share the guidelines, starting with tips that people arguably think about least. Then, this column will cover more well-known points.

No. 1: Despite its obscurity, this safety tip should rank as a priority.

On narrow roads without breakdown lanes, a bicyclist approaching a sharp curve or steep pitch should look back or check a mirror for vehicles coming from behind. Let’s say an SUV is racing toward the scene and will arrive at the blind spot seconds after the bicyclist does.

A cyclist at the midway point of a curve or hilltop often sees farther ahead than the driver can. Now, let’s assume a dump truck is coming from the other direction and the two vehicles will meet in the blind spot.

Often, the driver behind the bicyclist will pass before the truck is visible. When the motor operators spot one another on a collision course, brakes screech.

Here’s my solution:

Before the SUV reaches me, I slam on the brakes, dismount immediately and lug the bike into the ditch or beyond. Then, the SUV and truck can safely pass without worrying about a guy on a bicycle.

Often, drivers (particularly truck operators) wave enthusiastically to me for helping one, both or all of us avoid disaster.

No. 2: No one should bike without a mirror attached to the left handlebar. A bicyclist should keep an eye on the mirror to see what’s happening on the road behind, and in fact, I often glance at the mirror more than ahead of me — an exaggeration, but close to the truth.

Also, when veteran cyclists see no traffic in the mirror, they should double-check by turning the head and looking back. A vehicle may blend with background, but naked eyes pick it up better. This precaution stops us from occasionally swinging into a vehicle’s path.

No. 3: On unfamiliar roads or on highways for the first time that year, bicyclists shouldn’t descend long hills at high speeds before checking for cracks, rough spots, sharp objects and bad curves. Go slow the first time.

No. 4: On steep downhill descents, poor judgment can put the most careful biker into a curve too fast. Feather the brakes to slow the bike. Then, before rounding the turn, put the pedal on the inside of the curve in the up position and the outside one down. Next, push down very hard on the outside pedal, which anchors the wheels to the road.

No. 5: On fast descents, bicycles may wobble, particularly true on bikes with shock absorbers on the fork and wide tires. To stabilize the bike, squeeze the top tube between the knees. This really stops a “death wobble.”

No. 6: By law, bicyclists must travel as far to the right side of the road as safely possible unless they’re turning left. So, when making a left at a road junction or to get into a driveway, pedalers should check for traffic both ways before moving to the left of the lane to turn. If vehicles are approaching too fast, I cannot emphasize enough that stopping near the curb or ditch to avoid danger is a cyclist’s best friend. If in doubt, wait for traffic to pass before making a move.

No. 7: Beware of parked vehicles with a driver or passenger sitting by a left door. As a bicyclist sails by, the driver or backseat passenger may throw open the door into the cyclist’s path.

In this situation, safe pedalers look back to see if a vehicle is traveling in the right lane behind. If not, cyclists steer left beyond the door’s radius. If a passing vehicle forces bicyclists to go close to the door, they should stop and wait for traffic to clear before passing.

No. 8: Beware of drivers backing from driveways. Again, check to see if vehicles are coming from behind, then swerve well into the street around the driveway or just stop until all danger passes.

No. 9: When a bicyclist pedals by a right-hand turn at a junction, drivers occasionally make a right into the biker. When coming to a right turn and approaching vehicles look iffy from either direction, stop the bicycle before the junction to avoid a possible collision with careless drivers.

No. 10: To protect the old noggin and eyes when riding, a bicyclist must wear a helmet and appropriate glasses at all times.

The following isn’t a rule because it takes an ex-football player who has done a jillion relax-and-roll drills or iron nerves to master.

Whenever a pedaler dumps the bike and falls, it’s crucial to relax and roll when possible — far easier said than done.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]