Tips & Advice

This Brilliant Trick Is A Cheap Way To Keep Cyclists Safe On Roads

This could be lifesaving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 783 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2017 alone. With numbers like that, you could argue that merely having a designated lane for cyclists isn’t enough to protect them from traffic — much less sharing a lane with a car when there’s no designated bike lane.

A recent study concluded that the best solution would be to create physical barriers that separate cyclists from motor vehicles. But when a lane with a physical barrier is not readily available, what’s a cyclist to do?

A Cheap Way To Increase Bike Safety

There’s a new — and cheap! — trick that’s been making the rounds lately on social media. It provides a clear visual to drivers unaware of the proper passing distance that should be maintained between a car and a bike (3 feet, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures). Believe it or not, this quick fix requires only a pool noodle and some bungee cords.

Some cyclists have made headlines using this trick, as a tweet from Yahoo News Australia demonstrates:

And others, such as Twitter user @ElizabethCreely, have spotted pool noodle-toting cyclists during their commute:

In an article for Quartz, cyclist Annalisa van den Bergh, who’s tried the pool noodle method, points out that not only does a pool noodle provide a bit more of a physical barrier, but it also raises awareness for bike safety precautions.

“All in all, the pool noodle gives cyclists more of a presence on the streets,” she writes. “For the first time, I don’t feel obliged to ride the balance beam that is the strip of asphalt between the rumble strip and the edge of the road. Although we can’t say that the noodle eliminates road rage, we can say that every time a naysayer hollers at us now, at least they’re doing so from a safe distance.”

But Is Biking With A Pool Noodle Actually Safe?

Prince George Cycling Club events coordinator Dane Greenwell also echoes the sentiment that the pool noodle can be great for raising awareness of proper road-sharing safety practices, but doesn’t think that it’s all that practical in practice:

“It’s a great thought, and I love the attention it’s bringing to motorists on social media that they need to give bicycles more room, and it also teaches cyclists how much room they should expect to have, he told Canada’s CBC Listen. “But going around with a pool noodle — I’ll say this for the record, anyone listening — don’t strap a pool noodle to your bike. It’s not an effective way to work in traffic, if ever you need to do something quickly or end up with pedestrians, you might end up hitting a pedestrian with your pool noodle. So don’t do that.”

He does recommend, however, using anything “bright and flashing” as safety gear.

“If you’re going to ride any time where it’s not bright out, during the rain or even the early evening, you definitely want to have some lights on the back and the front [of your bike], high visibility vests or something like that — high visibility products are super available these days,” he said in the interview.

What are your thoughts on using the pool noodle as a form of added bike safety?