Unfriendly cycling cities

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by Speedodk, Nov 25, 2010.

  1. Speedodk

    Speedodk New Member

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    Is it even possible to commute efficiently and safely in these places?

    I lives in the panhandle of Florida in Pensacola and 80% of the main roadways to get across the city are fast speed single lane highways with VERY small curbs littered with debris. I pretty much can't avoid these roads where i live for any form of commuting or distance riding, and riding safely in the curb for most of the way is impossible.

    I just recently got into cycling but i should note i almost NEVER see cyclists where i live, and there is zero infrastructure to support us. Being a poor city doesn't help i guess.

    I have tried taking control of the lane for only very short distances chugging along at a decent 25mph, and was met with extreme aggression by waaay to many motorists laying on their horns and passing within inches of me. I feel as though i have no right being on the road with people that refuse to go around me without giving me a piece of their mind first.

    Am i screwed? Am i doing something wrong? I really enjoy cycling and don't want to quit but i feel i might have no choice
     
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  2. daibutsu

    daibutsu New Member

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    I used to live in Milton Fl, just out of P'cola. This was years ago, and I'm sure things are worse now. The one thing I did, and I used to ride a whole lot there, (like to Jay every Saturday, over to Perdido Key and back, etc.) was to look ljke a redneck (not pejorative!!) too. I'd keep a little cooler on the rack (sometimes with a .357 in it), wear a jersey and ball cap, and look like I just lost my license. I think the spandex and little campy hats threaten them.
     
  3. Speedodk

    Speedodk New Member

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    Oh man, That's gold!

    I've noticed there are more double lane roads in Milton and very few in Pensacola. Did you ever have to ride through any 45+mph busy single lanes when you lived there? if so, how did you handle it
     
  4. SuitOnACycle

    SuitOnACycle New Member

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    This may not be popular advice, so I suggest checking with your gut, but I live in the Greater Boston Area and it goes from extreamly friendly to violently inhospitable from one town to the next here. In Cambridge and Somerville, Cyclists are treated as equals by a good majority of the population.

    In Boston itself, I've had a few friends clipped and dragged by motorists, and the MBTA Bus drivers could care less. In most cases, I have to assert my presence and really pray for the best. I've been very lucky I've had no incidents so far. The biggest thing I'd look out for is how cycling conscious the area is. I'm guess Pensacola isn't too bike-aware but I've never been. In that case, make yourself gawdy and flashy. Most drivers won't hit a cyclist they see.
     
  5. InfinityMPG

    InfinityMPG New Member

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    Oh man, cycling with super-prejudice sucks. There's some guy from Minneapolis on YouTube who does videos complaining about cars not completely moving to the other lane to pass him and stuff like that. I would love to be able to complain about the little things. There are also plenty of safety videos for how to ride in traffic in the city, take the lane, etc., but a lot of techniques just don't work when you're cycling around road prejudice and unfavorable roads.

    There's a four-lane road {two lanes for each direction} near me that's 45mph with narrow lanes. When I'm travelling North I get up to 40-50 on the downhill and maintain 35 for the following climb up to the light, so I feel plenty safe around the crazies, but travelling South is a nightmare. It's a half-mile climb with only a couple inches between the white line and a high curb. With the high speed, narrow lanes, and local motorist behavior, taking the lane even with the other lane for cars to manuever always results in honking or angry, close passes. I am normally very much against avoiding roads just because of situations like this because those sucka's can just take the two seconds to move, but this particular road I have started avoiding, even though it has no parallel streets and a detour adds several miles to my trip. That's not advice though. Detours to avoid stress are no good. I'm working on getting over my avoidance of this one little section.

    [Don't necessarily take this next paragraph as good advice, it's just what I have been doing]
    But on narrow, single-lane, double-yellow, high speed 45+ roads with no lights ahead to slow traffic's average speed and too much traffic for cars to pass using the oncoming lane, taking the lane is not a realistic option so I just ride a foot from the debree-zone and watch my mirror almost more than I watch what's in front of me. That mirror is crucial. It's just a little bar-end Roadie Mirror but it really helps. I can usually tell when someone who's pissed is about to pass me. My usual plan is that when it looks like someone is going to try to squeeze past within unsafe inches, I move an extra foot to the left (do not read as swirving, which is never a good idea when the object is predictability) so that they correct to the left or diffuse themselves and slow down to wait for a safe pass. If they look like they're just going to plow through me, then at least I've given myself more room to jump out of the way. The bottom line on these nightmare roads is that you need to wear some thick skin. Cars are going to pass within what might be a very uncomfortable distance. The three-foot rule would be glorious but it's not usually what's given. I've just gotten used to judging the speed and passing distance of cars with my mirror and determining what I need to do to not get dead.

    It's also worth saying that I have two SuperFlash lights on my rear, an under-saddle light, and two Planet Bike 2-Watt lights in front. I also wear light-colored jersey's and ride high in dangerous conditions. I know these people can see me.

    Oh yeah, and daibutsu's got it. There are some good clothing options for safety around rednecks. Try American Flag cycling jerseys, Marine Corps jerseys, Army, Police, "Ride for the Cure". It's funny that wearing bright yellow has less of an effect than wearing patriotic stuff.
     
  6. Shak180

    Shak180 New Member

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    You can't just ride on the sidewalk in the sketchy areas?
     
  7. InfinityMPG

    InfinityMPG New Member

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shak180 .

    You can't just ride on the sidewalk in the sketchy areas?


    Even if sidewalk riding wasn't a bad idea, which is pretty much always is, the area I ride in is pretty course with sidewalk quality and availability. Sometimes when I'm on a long ascent with cars passing me I'll look to the right and wonder if the sidewalk fits for the fleeting moment, but all I have to do is look ahead no more than a fourth of a mile to see that the sidewalk terminates abruptly into grass. In that case it's back to Sidewalk Avoidance 101, where if I tried to jump back and forth from sidewalk to road I would be causing more danger than if I just kept a set course on the road.

    It's a similar scenario in neighborhoods where the driveways let out directly into a street with no shoulders and no sidewalks. Here's an example from Jeff's Bike Blog -- not the situation but the road conditions:
    http://bikesafer.blogspot.com/2009/11/ironically_03.html

    The stuff that happens to Jeff rarely, if ever, happens to me, as I ride fast and use traffic situations to work on sprints and close positioning, but it can get pretty dicey.
     
  8. gordonharris912

    gordonharris912 New Member

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    I live 35 miles north of Boston, which can be difficult to ride a bike in, other than the designated bike paths. But there are easily a hundred great rides in the greater Boston area , designed by local cycling clubs like Charles River Wheelmen, North Shore Cyclists, etc. I've been building an interactive map of these rides where you can click on the rider and go to the ride page, most of which have an embedded map from Ride With GPS. View the interactive map of cycling routes in New England at http://www.ridemap.info or visit http://cyclingnewengland.blogspot.com to go directly to index of ride pages.
     
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