20 things I wish car divers knew that can seriously affect a cyclist’s safety

I’m sure we all know the following scenario: You’re riding on a street, minding your own business, enjoying the sun and the bees and the birds. Suddenly - and seemingly out of nowhere - a car passes by so close that your heart skips a couple of beats.

You try to keep your cool, but in your head, a voice is raging: “Why? Why did that person have to do that? Why risk someone’s life who’s a lot more vulnerable on the street?”

Honestly, I think that a lot of the times, people just don’t know any better - especially if you don’t ride a bike or you only get to ride on very safe cycling paths outside the city. Those are no real-life conditions to create awareness in car drivers. A lot of them can’t seem to imagine how many things cyclists have to pay attention to if they want to stay safe on the street. For them, we are a nuisance. For us, it often is a matter of live and death - as dramatic as that might sound.

I’m definitely not trying to make excuses for car drivers here; there have been many cases where some ignorant jerk cut me off or just didn’t look and also didn’t care. Many times have been very close passes, and I’m by no means a reckless cyclist who provokes those kind of incidents.

Riding in Berlin and LA not only taught me that I have to be tough, fearless and careful at the very same time, but also to accept that car drivers oftentimes don’t have the same perception as we do. They don’t have to watch out for all those things that we have to develop a radar for. 

So, here’s my TOP 20 list of things that we as cyclists have to pay attention to when sharing the street with cars (of course, that list depends on the area you ride in; countryside probably won’t check all the boxes compared to a city like Berlin).


Top 20 things I wish car divers knew that cyclists have to be aware of

#1 - Potholes and cracks in the road

Classic. I still can’t bunnyhop, so those are a real hazard for me. Luckily, I got familiar with almost every pothole on my way to work.

#2 - Broken glass

Love it. People seem to be doing a really good job in breaking bottles on streets, bike paths and literally everywhere else.

#3 - Pedestrians trying to walk onto the street

They stare at their phones. They don’t look left or right. Sometimes, they use the bike lane to wait for cars to pass so they can cross the street. And a lot of the times, they seem to grossly underestimate a road cyclist’s speed.

#4 - Cobblestones

At least Berlin is full of them. Most of the times, they’re manageable. Sometimes, though, the cobbles are quite far apart from each other or really big, so you risk slipping or getting stuck in between with your skinny tires. Nightmare!

#5 - Tree branches, stones and other stuff

Especially after storms, construction work or similar events, these can be scattered everywhere and become a big hazard for cyclists.

#6 - “Right before left “ (Germany)

I don’t know if you know that, but in Germany, there’s a traffic rule that says that on intersections without a specific sign (“Vorfahrt”) the person who arrives at the intersection to your right first has the right of way. These intersections can come up quite unexpectedly sometimes. Okay, I admit it, cars have to deal with them, too. But cars oftentimes don’t see cyclists as easily as the other way round.

#7 - Car doors opening

The worst! Ever since I heard of someone being doored and ultimately thrown under a truck, I’m super anxious about something like that happening to me. Here’s the thing: If I ride close to the cars, I can easily be doored. If I ride more inside the street to leave extra space, cars might pass me too closely. It’s a lose-lose kind of situation.

#8 - Unleashed dogs

Owner is chatting away with someone while precious doggo is looking around for great smells and the perfect pee spot. And let me tell you, some of them don’t like cyclists at all.

#9 - Low flying birds

Imagine you’re riding fast and you feel safe, and suddenly there’s this stupid sparrow flying in your way. Almost-collisions with birds are not rare at all. Malicious attacks by birds on your head can happen occasionally, as I got to experience recently; so please wear a helmet at all times.

#10 - Bees and bugs

Bugs, well, you just accidentally swallow them and they’re basically out of sight, out of mind. But bees? Imagine getting one of these into your mouth, eye, or under your helmet! You can’t even predict them, either. Ask Mitch, he was stung by one during a sprint down the street only recently.

#11 - Other cyclists

Riding on certain streets in Berlin can feel like unexpectedly joining a giant group ride. A lot of the times, cyclists here have either really shitty, broken bikes that make all kinds of disturbing noises, or they don’t know how to give signals to other cyclists when they’re trying to pass or make a turn. They like to ride in the middle of the bike path, too, so you can’t pass them… and a lot of them jump red lights just to ride like a snail in front of you once you catch up.

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#12 - E-Scooters

Don’t even get me started on this topic! I’m grateful that those e-scooters are not as omnipresent in Berlin as they are in LA, but they are a huge hazard. They can go quite fast, and most people don’t know how to properly use them. I definitely like to keep my distance whenever I spot someone on a scooter. 

#13 - Confused tourists

Oh, aren’t they a joy to be around, parking their suitcases right in the middle of the bike path, looking at maps and brochures or fighting over which direction to go? My advice: Invest in a really loud bell.

#14 - Dangerous winds/crosswinds

Crosswinds can be fatal if you have a light bike and a car or truck passes by; which obviously can increase the wind even more. Car drivers are rarely affected by strong winds, while cyclists have to be ultra careful and keep a tight grip on their handlebars.

#15 - Roadkill

Not my favorite, especially if I’m responsible for it (don’t ask). Luckily, it’s not a super regular thing to encounter on a ride and thus technically not a major hazard. But imagine a car that doesn’t keep its distance and thus forces you to ride over one!? Ugh!

#16 - Driveways

Obviously, another classic that we need to keep an eye out for. Wouldn’t be the first time that someone leaving a driveway overlooks a cyclist.

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#17 - Suddenly ending bike paths

Happens in Berlin all the time. You’re riding along, and suddenly: Uoah, where did that path go? And why does that sign say “No bikes”? Where the heck is that… Oh, on the other side?! Where was I supposed to cross? — Streets never end abruptly. Why bike paths?

#18 - CARS

Any additional explanation needed?

#19 - Sudden flats or other mechanical problems

Nobody likes the sound of a blown tire. Especially not when you’re going fast and you’re right next to a car.

#20 - Vehicles blocking the bike lane

I saved my personal favorite for the end - vehicles that get too comfortable on the bike lane. I will never get why people do it, and I get very aggressive when they do. Sometimes, they drive out of a driveway and stop right on the lane, see you coming, and back off. THANKS to those, honestly. Most of the times, though, they look you right in the eye and stay exactly where they are.


It’s not as bad as it sounds, though!

Alright, I hope this didn’t sound too much like a rant, because that’s not the kind of message I wanted to throw out. 

My main point is that we as cyclists have so many things to be aware of during our commute, and we’re constantly in danger of getting hit - even if we pay full attention to our surroundings. I know that car drivers won’t necessarily read this blog post and suddenly change their behavior (wishful thinking, ahoy!) but at least it might give a general idea of how tough it is to ride a bike in a world where cars still “own” the streets.

Did I forget anything on that list? Feel free to share your experiences with me under this blog post, on Instagram or on my Facebook page!

Why you shouldn’t feel guilty for skipping a couple of rides

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I’m sure we all know the struggle: It’s been raining for days. You come home from work tired and stressed out. Your apartment is a mess and needs urgent cleaning. Plus, you want to spend time with your partner or your family.

And the bike? It’s just standing there, staring at you. If it’s in your shed or the garage, you know it would be staring at you if you were in the same room with it. 

The result: You feel guilty for not getting on the bike more often! You know it makes you feel good once you’re out, but something’s holding you back anyway. Oftentimes, this can lead to anger and frustration that sends you into a vicious cycle of „I want to ride“, „I need to rest“ and „I’m just being lazy and I need to push through“.

Personally, I have experienced two different kinds of guilt if it comes to not riding my bike: Guilt for prioritizing other things over cycling and guilt for not being persistent, strong, healthy or disciplined enough. Today, I’d like to talk about those two troublemakers!

1) Guilt for prioritizing other things over cycling

This kind of guilt is the „justified“ kind. It’s a clear warning sign that a shift in your priorities is happening, and that you need to act now if you don’t want your passion to slowly fade away.

Need an example?

You sit at home and prefer to watch Netflix instead of kitting up and hitting the road. There is no obvious reason why you shouldn’t go on a ride, but you prioritize an activity that will later make you say “I should’ve gone cycling instead”.

If that happens a lot more often than you‘d like it to, it’s probably a good idea to rethink your priorities and how important cycling really is for you.

2) Guilt for not being persistent, strong, healthy or disciplined enough

In short: For being a cry-baby that should go out on a ride, no matter what, because that’s “what real cyclists do“. This kind of guilt is the toxic one that you should avoid at all costs.

It often starts like this: You look at your Strava stats. Then you go on Instagram and scroll through the posts of your followers. They’re all out on their bikes, having a blast and getting stronger, faster and more professional than you with every passing day. Meanwhile, you sit at home on the couch and rest, while you could actually be on the bike.

But here’s the thing: Having to take some time off training because of specific circumstances doesn’t make you less of a cyclist! I know that you know that, but the little devil on our shoulder tends to disagree when we’re weak and vulnerable. If your life gets turbulent and you force yourself to do and achieve even more, instead of taking a break and giving it a rest… now, that will put a ton of pressure on you and your passion for cycling.

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I massively suffered from this kind of guilt about a year and a half ago, and it nearly broke me: Mitch and I always trained together, but at some point he started to ride a lot more often and chose more intense routes, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up until I increased my time on the bike. He even registered for a crit race, and I really really wanted to be part of that, too (more on that topic another time). 

But I had to deal with a divorce, move into a new place and find a second job. This is already a lot to handle for someone who doesn’t burn for cycling. Yet, I beat myself up over it, again and again and again. Until someday, I had a serious panic attack on the bike!

That was when I started to tell myself: No, Aline, it’s okay. You need to deal with those things now and not worry about your training too much. This is your priority because it has to be your priority. If you could chose otherwise, you would. So don’t beat yourself up over it and just get through it.

Of course, that’s an extreme example, but I think it ultimately applies to all kinds of things that can happen in everybody’s life. Most people are not immune to bad moods, nasty weather, fights with family members or significant others, or trouble at work. We all deal with stuff as best as we can.

Always remember: You’re only good on the bike as long as you FEEL good. 

Training when you‘re mentally and physically in a bad place is a terrible idea. It not only makes you feel like a failure because you won’t be able to “just push through” but might also make your current situation worse.

When I’m sick - but technically not sick enough for a workout - I personally still skip the training because I don’t want my body to have to fight a cold AND the effort of a bike ride. But I know that everyone’s different, and a lot of people actually go on a ride anyway. Which is great! But please, if you don’t feel well and you want to stay at home, don’t beat yourself up over it just because others do it differently.

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The same goes for mental issues - I do believe that most of the time, we have a pretty good radar for when to go on a ride and when to sit it out. I know that I’m among those people who proclaim that #ridingistheanswer, but to be honest, it isn’t always a good idea to get on the bike when you’re very emotional. I not only had the aforementioned panic attack but also rode my bike very aggressively and kind of recklessly a couple of times when I was really angry. That’s just a recipe for making an already bad situation worse. Listen to your gut and choose another coping mechanism instead if you’re prone to these kind of behaviors!

Last but not least...

I hope you won’t fall prey to rider’s guilt - it’s definitely going to take the fun out of the sport. Choose wisely what kind of guilt you experience and act accordingly. I promise, you won’t regret it - even after looking at the 1000th awesome cycling picture on Instagram ;-)

Do you feel like that from time to time? How do you deal with it? I’d love to hear your experiences, so please leave a comment here, message me on Instagram or visit my Facebook page