Biking to work: Have you performed your JHA?

FullSizeRender[1] (1)Many of us here at the Institute commute to work by bike. And OHSU has logged riders this year with surpassing 70,000 commuting miles! Certainly, bicycle commuting continues to gain popularity – and for all kinds of good reasons. It’s healthy, it reduces our carbon footprint …it makes us feel better and leads us to be more productive during the day.

That being said, I have a few friends who believe bike commuting to be a dangerous and unsafe choice. Perhaps, just like we do for our day jobs, we need to take this concern seriously and implement risk prevention. I’ve been thinking about this a lot –  about the tragedies that occur when cars and bicycles meet. In addition to doing everything we can to make our roads safer for all forms of travel – vehicles, bikes, pedestrians – and educating everyone about the “rules and responsibilities” of the road, we all need to do our own Job Hazard Analysis, and plan accordingly.

My JHA for my commute might look a bit like this:

Task Description: Riding a bicycle to work, and home again.

Hazard Descriptions: Potential falls, Collisions with both animate and inanimate objects (especially big shiny moving ones), Temperature extremes.

Hazard Controls:

  1. PPE: wear the appropriate visible clothing for the expected weather,  select non-slip footwear (nope, not flip flops), and a brain protector (helmet) that fits, glasses as needed.
  2. Protect against the elements of inclement weather and darkness: do you engineer it out (like me, I don’t ride in the dark or heavy rains, plus I use lights during daylight as I have a long and not always bike-friendly commute) or choose as many administrative protections as possible (thoughtfully choose your route, avoid high hazard areas, outfit yourself so you are visible, follow all the rules of the road).
  3. Follow standard safety practices (yes, that means following traffic signals and rules of the road).
  4. Prepare for surprises (choose your route carefully, be fully mindful during the commute, be prepared for daily surprises (yes, in Oregon, blackberry vines can grow a foot overnight and suddenly spike through the bike lane, especially on Terwilliger Blvd).
  5. Ride defensively and try to be thoughtful, kind and generous with those around you – but always prepare for those surprises (and yes, this can be hard when you were just cut off by a driver texting or the ear-budded pedestrians who might be sharing our sidewalks and trails – oh, right, we already blogged about that!)

It’s summer – likely another hot one. Hydrate – ride safely – and stay healthy!

What about you – do you have additional safety tips to suggest?

OccHealthSci topic: Transportation <<<Bicycles
Bicycle Transportation Alliance
City of Portland PBOT Portland Bike Maps & Trip Planning