Riding In Traffic...

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by cgianni, Aug 3, 2003.

  1. cgianni

    cgianni New Member

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    Hi, I'm new to the sport and have been biking to work. I have asserted myself on the road approx 1 meter from the curb or so...
    but MAN! it's so dangerous, cars go flying by me FAST AND CLOSE!
    It seems to be very dangerous, and I fear for my safety at times. Do you guys go through the same thing? It's just a matter of time (it seems to me) that an idiot will run me down.
    Your thoughts on this???
    Thanks
     
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  2. scolen2

    scolen2 New Member

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    For the last 11 years I have been the preditor (Car)

    For the last year I have been the preditor and the prey (Motorcycle)

    Now I'm just the prey as I'm riding my bicycle to work every day.

    I'll be honest and say that tight twistys are for motor vehicles only, I hate comming around a corner and fearing that a bike is at 1/4 of my pace and possibly in the middle of the road. That being said I understand why cyclist want to ride these roads.. They're fun! But knowing both sides, when I ride a bicycle I will never ride on a blind twisty road! When I'm on pace and I accually can see a bike early enough I will plan my line around you, and it will feel closer to you then it really is. That being said, you have to keep an eye out for the cars too.

    I guess we're all responsible for each others safty, A driver has to be aware of the bicycle, and the bicycle has to be aware of the car. But you know that the thing that's going to get you isn't the fast driver in the hot car, or the bike knee down around the corner. It's the everyday driver who's not paying attention... it's a crap shoot, do the most you can to be the agressor not the defender.
     
  3. vancelot

    vancelot New Member

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    :eek: I fully understand your concerns. I commuted two hours a day to/from work along a state hwy for about six months back in 1996 and now, I ride two evenings a week for about an hour each and then both days of the weekend for another six hours or so for a total of about 120 miles per week. The best advice I have to offer is to be a good cyclist AND to focus your mind on what you WANT to happen. When you catch yourself worrying, make an effort to dwell on people seeing you and greeting you positively about your being out there putting in the miles.

    Yes, you may have an accident - even Lance has had his share of them riding the roads of Austin, TX, but make sure you stay positive about sharing the road while being as careful as YOU can be. Best wishes!!:D
     
  4. Kimi Iceman

    Kimi Iceman New Member

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    hm...today an mercedes driver nearly knocked me down....i was cyclin on the bike lane, a car , a mercedes , overtook me and just turned into a side road 2 or 3 cm in front of me. i steered to the left, and then strong to the right, so i was just able to avoid a bad accident....i was about 40 k.p.h "slow"...thanks god i was not faster..
     
  5. trek930

    trek930 New Member

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    i've been bike commuting for a while and i'll tell you, things will always seem to be passing you nearer and faster when you're on a bike. the risks will always be there but i improve my chances with a highly visible optic yellow colored vest and a helmet mounted rear mirror. dorky - yes - but at least i live to ride another day. oh and one other thing, i always assume that everyone else on the road is an idiot and that they're bound to do something stupid.
     
  6. vancelot

    vancelot New Member

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    Kimi, you were definitely rolling at 40 kph and obviously lightening quick to avoid the Mercedes. Well done. I guess it could be said that drivers who don't cycle are challenged in how to negotiate around us!

    Best wishes,

    Vancelot
     
  7. vancelot

    vancelot New Member

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    Well, as you can see from my reply to Kimi, non-cycling drivers are challenged to negotiate the roadways around us. I prefer to think of them not as idiots bent on acting stupidly, but sort of like the special ed kids I teach...they just need more and better attention from us. Well done on wearing the vest and mirror!

    Best wishes,

    Vancelot
     
  8. pedalchick

    pedalchick New Member

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    There are several things you can do to make your commute safer.
    1) Pick a route where traffic is lighter or moves slowly. Often traffic will divert down the usual bike-friendly roads (side-streets and neighborhoods) in an attempt to avoid traffic jams and these harried commuters will buzz dogs, small children, and cyclists alike. Rude b&stards. Often it is safer to take the road with the traffic jams as the cars are moving slowly. If it's safe (ie. the shoulder is wide) you can move quicker than the cars.
    2) Take the lane. You're already doing this by riding 1m out from the curb. There's a fine line, however, between being assertive and making yourself seen and being obnoxious and not letting the cars stand a chance of passing you. I tend to move father out into the road when it is unsafe for cars to pass, but then drifting a bit to the side of the road when I want them to come around.
    3) Mind your speed. If you're going way slower than the traffic, the cars will be passing you very fast. If you're riding quickly, the relative difference in speed will be less. It's always safer that way, but sometimes the hills get in the way - it is when the cars are going significantly faster than you that you have to be extra vigilant.
    4) Ride with confidence, predictably, and steadily. Ride your bike as if you were driving a car, meaning if you're going to turn left, get ready to turn well in advance, move over when it's safe, signal, etc. Don't pull off to the right, stop and wait for the cars to move for you. Riding like you are a vehicle and not a pedestrian will confuse the drivers less.
    5) Use your ears! Don't ride with a mirror - it will constantly distract your eyes which are better served looking straight ahead to pick out glass and potholes. Use your ears to listen to the traffic - with practice you'll be able to tell how fast the cars are coming, if they're moving over to give you room or are going to buzz you, if they're gunning their engines to pass or if they're being patient and waiting behind you. The only problem is those damn flat-faced buses - you can't hear them coming at all!

    It takes practice, but with time you'll be more confident and feel safer. You really have to train your attention span, your animal instincts and your reflexes as well as your muscles and cardio to be a good cyclist.

    Good luck! Happy commuting
     
  9. Kimi Iceman

    Kimi Iceman New Member

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    thx....yeah...hm..those guys should banned from the traffic..
     
  10. CycleSteve

    CycleSteve New Member

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    I ride with a group of about 20-30 people and when we get all strung out on a 2-lane road, cars still try to pass the whole group with oncoming cars. The oncoming cars swerve onto their shoulder or even have to completely stop. One day we're going to see a head-on collision or the passing car is going to swerve right into our group. Worst time of day is about 5pm when everybody's in a rush to get home.

    I stay about 2 feet into the lane when I hear a car coming up behind. They seem to realize they can't squeeze by if there's oncoming traffic. The closer I ride to the road edge, the more often they try to squeeze through.
     
  11. Nicko71

    Nicko71 New Member

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    My advice is simple.

    I ride very early, when fewer cars are around.

    I ride on the quieter roads, bike paths or in the mountain roads.

    I dont ride in peak hour, or on busy main roads -EVER!!!!!

    Why not contact a cycling club, those riders usually know the best times and places to ride - and the safest!!

    cheers
     
  12. jtfleming

    jtfleming New Member

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    I too ride at what would be about one meter into the road. If I don't leave enough space on my side, emergency maneuvers are dangerous on those high pressure road tires with all the sand and such.

    I find some drivers make me a little nervous, but the distance is actually safe...at least a foot or two. It is unnerving when that happens, but I think a lot of drivers who do this are "aware that you are aware" as a cyclist, and they feel you are not going to maneuver into traffic.

    I will take exception to the hearing issue though. I am deaf. The only thing I can hear when I am not wearing hearing aids (which I cannot wear when I cycle because the moisture kills them) is a truck in the deep bass tones. I believe visual awareness is the most important. I have very few problems on the road.

    An alert and aggressive posture is your best defense, but as others have said, careful where you ride/when. I will go quite a distance out of my way to avoid a rotary/roundabout, and when I have to take one, I try to get my speed up to the automotive speed limit, and take the center of the lane.
     
  13. troyq

    troyq New Member

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    This week I commuted to work much earlier than usual... left home about 6.15AM instead of 7.15. My ride is 25km, about 75% on main roads.

    The stand-out observation I made was that yes, there were far less cars that early in the morning but many of those cars were travelling alot faster and more aggressively than those stuck in peak-hour traffic an 1hr or so later.

    So my advice would be to avoid main roads if you can, outside of peak hour, but during peak hour enjoy the fact that most cars will rarely average more speed than you - meaning that any accident you do have is *less* likely to be serious.

    Of course this is location-dependant though... the main roads I ride on are 60 km/hr zones. Obviously the danger increases greatly the faster the road you are on.

    Troy.
     
  14. Shabby

    Shabby New Member

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    A lot of the skill in commuting is bluffing drivers, but always having as many escape routes/options as possible to bail out. Make sure it's obvious that there's no room to pass if there truly isn't enough. Make sure there is heaps of room by riding in the gutter when you want them to pass. Get eye contact and give them the look you'd give a naughty child if they look like turning in front of you. (Have to agree with the Special Ed analogy on this one!)

    At the end of the day, 100kg of bike and rider at 30kph is no match for a 1000kg of car at 60kph, so you have to avoid that confrontation. But you also have to be assertive enough to be treated as a vehicle - people who don't commute in cars in peak hour also get pushed around in traffic, because they haven't developed that agression that is needed to survive in city traffic.

    On the plus side, commuting in crappy conditions and traffic helps your bike skills a lot, which in turn makes commuting easier. Pedestrians in the way - track stand for a few seconds to let them go past. Cars in the way - jump of the gutter onto the road. Crappy bike paths - jump onto the road to avoid the dodgy sections.

    Hiding in the darkness and off main roads doesn't help the general cause of cycling. But make yourself an example, not a martyr. (A guy I just sold a bike to told me his reason for buying a bike was that he saw all the bike commuters having fun, beating him to work and chatting to each other at the lights.)
     
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