If you are riding in a situation of concern, do you cover your brakes – that is, do you hold your hand and foot over the brake levers?
The idea of covering your brakes is that it reduces the vital reaction time of applying your brakes.
A millisecond faster on the brakes could save you several metres in stopping distance which could be the difference between hitting something or not.
Situations where you should think about covering your brakes are:
- in heavy traffic where anything can happen such as sudden lane changes or traffic coming to a halt, even on a highway;
- riding through suburban streets where cars may not see you and pull out in front of you from an intersection;
- riding down a country road where you expect a kangaroo, deer or other fauna to suddenly appear from the bushes; and
- when you perceive an erratic driver in traffic who you suspect may suddenly do something stupid.
You may think of other situations as well where this approach is necessary.
Your foot should always be hovering over the foot brake lever in road riding, anyhow.
Rather than just hovering your hand and foot over the levers, you should also think about engaging the lever a little bit to switch on the rear brake light in some situations.
This does not apply the brakes, only switches on the light.
This is a handy warning device for motorists who are following you.
It is also a trick you can deploy to make tailgaters back off a little bit.
In fact, rapidly engaging and disengaging this switch will catch the attention of the motorist behind you who will see your brake lights flicking on and off.
When do you cover your brakes and has it saved you from a crash?