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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

View Poll Results: How fast do you usually go?
Less than 8mph 2 1.96%
8-11 mph 1 0.98%
10-13 mph 13 12.75%
12-15 mph 20 19.61%
14-17 mph 19 18.63%
16-19mph 22 21.57%
18 + 25 24.51%
Voters: 102. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-22-06, 09:26 AM   #1
sbhikes
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How fast do you usually go?

I'm just curious about our abilities here. I'm not interested in your average speed--you know, the one on your bike computer. That one gets all mucked up by hills and stop signs. Your usual speed is what you usually see when you are just going along and happen to look down at your bike computer.

Just to make it less boring, please comment on anything you like related to your speed. Are you faster than the rest of traffic? Does how fast you can go change what streets you will use? Does your ability for speed (or lack thereof) inform your advocacy? Do you let things slow you down or do you do everything you can not to slow down including run stops and/or otherwise do things outside the technical law? Do you prefer the slow lane, to amble along, and not get too sweaty? Whatever you want.

Just for fun I made it a poll, but feel free to ignore the poll part.
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Old 03-22-06, 09:29 AM   #2
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I haven't had a bike computer for the last few years. I have no idea how fast I'm going apart from average speed, which changes according to wind direction and speed.


My wifey did clock me at about 40 downhill on my bent recently, but downhill doesn't really count in my book.

Now you've got me curious! Time to install the new bike computer my folks sent me a couple years ago...
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Old 03-22-06, 09:39 AM   #3
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I average about 15.5 on local streets and hills. On flats 20+ is quite doable, after I am warmed up, on flat ground I can easily ride 22MPH. On steep hills it is around 8MPH.

I see 17-20MPH on my computer a lot.

Anything over 30 and I tend to reach for the brakes.

Fully commuter loaded on my commute bike, I tend to be in the 15-18MPH range... up hill isn't any slower (8MPH), but it is harder to reach the same peaks on the flats with the heavier bike.
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Old 03-22-06, 09:56 AM   #4
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I selected 16 - 19, and assumed that you refered to urban areas with busy traffic, right?

Are you faster than the rest of traffic? Not always but often though.

Does how fast you can go change what streets you will use? Yes, I tend to avoid streets with holes and obstacles such as speed bumps or streets with too many intersections when there is a better choice even if longer.

Does your ability for speed (or lack thereof) inform your advocacy? I think it is safer to keep a good sustained speed. Cadence > 75-80 and avoid coasting, this allows for quicker accelerations and helps prevent oncoming motorists from underestimating your speed.

Do you let things slow you down or do you do everything you can not to slow down including run stops and/or otherwise do things outside the technical law? I don't let anything slow me down other than staying away from a dangerous motorist's move or some complicated situations where I judge safer to slow down. I don't run stops or lights and don't consider these as slowing me down, they are part of traffic management and allow me to go faster by retaining traffic from secondary roads/streets and/or the light is green.

Do you prefer the slow lane, to amble along, and not get too sweaty? I wan't say I never do, but the traffic would have to be very quite. Even in a bike lane, I don't think it is safe to amble along.
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Old 03-22-06, 10:06 AM   #5
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I've hit 55 mph before on one downhill, but usually I am holding somewhere around 20 mph on the flat. I am not usually faster than traffic, but I like holding a high speed to minimize the speed differential and so increase my reaction time.

As for the other stuff, I generally think it is a good thing to keep a high sustained speed, for the reason stated above, but I follow most of the traffic rules such as lights and stuff. When I was living in the University District in Seattle, I would many times cut through parking lots though to avoid the many lights there.

I don't usually amble, but that is just me. When I am on my bike, I just like to go. If I am in fully civilian dress, I do take it easier though, to avoid sweating.
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Old 03-22-06, 10:11 AM   #6
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On my commute to work I average 15 mph. There is about 800 feet of total climbing over 10-12 miles depending on the route that I take. I go as little as 4mph in places up the 1800 foot, 14% grade. My bike weighs about 35 loaded and I use 26x2 contental double fighter kevlar tires.

The max speed that I've hit on that bike was 48 drafting behind a bus and flying down the 14% grade. My bike is geared low, so I probably would have to be spinning about 150-155 rpm.

Doing about 150 rpm, I hit 51 on another 27x1 tire with a 52X13 this was going down an 10%, 2000 foot hill.

I have a Burley Rock and Roll tandem which my wife and I can pedal at a consistant 35 mph on a smooth, level roadway. It is nice to leasurely keep up with traffic and take up one lane of a 2 lane 35 mph road. We've toped that thing out at 48 mph going down an 8 % grade. Even with a drum brake it takes a good bit of time to stop.
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Old 03-22-06, 10:35 AM   #7
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I usually cruise at about 20 mph. Anywhere from 30 to 40 kph (isn't that about 19 to 25 mph?).

My fastest speed was 85 kph and often hit 50 kph but I've battled head winds so strong it was more or less a trackstand all the way into work.

I'll never have the horse power a car does but, traffic and parking is much more bike friendly so I end up taking as much time in my car going to work as I do riding my bike into work.
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Old 03-22-06, 10:44 AM   #8
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I have a pretty flat commute. I am usually doing 16 to 19 on my road bike on level ground. The traffic is usually light.

When the traffic gets heavier, that results in more stops at signals, but between signals my speeds tend to be higher because the other vehicles reduce my wind drag and because I put a little extra effort into keeping up with other traffic. I sometimes maintain over 25 mph for a long time if the traffic is moving just right. These are narrow-lane 4-lane roads where I ride near the center of the rightmost through lane.

When I ride around the neighborhood with my son in the trailer behind me, or when I ride my mountain bike, I go a lot slower, say 12-16.
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Old 03-22-06, 10:51 AM   #9
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I'm not very fast, due to a slow bike, advanced age and the fact that I ride many miles, so I have to pace myself.

I think I have the same rights to use the roads as a slow rider that a faster rider would have. Or a fast sports car, for that matter.

I have gotten so I don't think about my speed in relation to other traffic in that way. It just doesn't matter if they want to go faster than me. I don't care. It's their problem. Let 'em go around me if they want.
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Old 03-22-06, 11:23 AM   #10
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22mph is my usual cruising speed. My commute route is very flat, the prevailing winds are generally sideways, and my route is only 5.5 miles one way. I'm generally faster than cars in city traffic or in areas with frequent turns.

I have a habit of turning every commute into a time trial, even though I try to tell myself to take it easy. I'll stop for most stop signs, but I admit to routinely blowing through three 4-way stops where there is excellent visibilty (for me) and little chance of encountering opposing traffic.

Riding faster seems to me somewhat of a double edged sword. On one hand I feel like I maybe get more respect from some motorists because I'm traveling about the same speed as they are. On the other hand sometimes motorists see me but don't realize how fast I'm going, because they're used to seeing people on bikes (kids) going much slower. This sometimes leads to them misjudging how much time they have to turn in front of me. For the most part however, I get a sense of feeling safer while riding faster. I'm not exactly sure why though.

Last edited by nick burns; 03-22-06 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 03-22-06, 11:23 AM   #11
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I checked the 14-17 mph range, into which my level cruising speed generally falls. On the road, I seem to be pretty average, getting passed by the better club riders and triathletes, but passing the casual riders. I am about 1 mph slower on my mountain bike.

I am geared (around 100 gear-inches) for a top downhill speed of about 32 mph and have little desire to go any faster than that. I am much more interested in challenging myself to improve my speed on gradual climbs.
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Old 03-22-06, 11:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
My wifey did clock me at about 40 downhill on my bent recently, but downhill doesn't really count in my book.
Quote:
Originally Posted by John E
I am geared (around 100 gear-inches) for a top downhill speed of about 32 mph and have little desire to go any faster than that.
I get a kick out of riding fast downhill, but my better judgement tells me that going slowly on a bike (10 mph. to 25 mph.) is one thing that makes it safer. I think there's more to be gained safety-wise by going slower than traffic than there is to be gained by trying to keep pace. Let those motorists get past me and out of my way.
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Old 03-22-06, 11:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
I get a kick out of riding fast downhill, but my better judgement tells me that going slowly on a bike (10 mph. to 25 mph.) is one thing that makes it safer. I think there's more to be gained safety-wise by going slower than traffic than there is to be gained by trying to keep pace. Let those motorists get past me and out of my way.
Got that right!

Of course fast is fun in the right place. There's a super long gradual hill with wide lanes and almost no traffic or parked cars. I love to top out my gears going down, then turn around and chug up the hill, then turn around and fly down again. I could do this all afternoon--a real fun way to do interval training! (It doesn't take much to amuse me.)
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Old 03-22-06, 11:57 AM   #14
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I ditched my computer because it was depressing to have
my shortcomings digitally displyed for the world to see but I have found
aprox. 15mph is where I hover for most of my trip. I am working for a
TEMP agency right now and on each of the assignments they send me to
I google the distance and use 15mph as my base figure on when I should
leave my house and Im always right on time. I appreciate turtles slow and
patient persistance and have modeled my attitude and riding style likewise
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Old 03-22-06, 11:58 AM   #15
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I think the speed/safety issue has more to do with comfort and practice with timing maneuvers than anything else. I usually ride between 15 and 20 mph in traffic, so I feel comfortable maneuvering at that speed. Any slower, and my timing is off. Faster, and I feel that cars start taking too long to pass me, making it less comfortable to share a lane and again, throwing my timing for maneuvers off.

That said, I think that anyone can get accustomed to riding in traffic at almost any speed.
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Old 03-22-06, 12:03 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -=£em in Pa=-
I ditched my computer because it was depressing to have
my shortcomings digitally displyed for the world to see but I have found
aprox. 15mph is where I hover for most of my trip. I am working for a
TEMP agency right now and on each of the assignments they send me to
I google the distance and use 15mph as my base figure on when I should
leave my house and Im always right on time. I appreciate turtles slow and
patient persistance and have modeled my attitude and riding style likewise
My average speed isn't much higher. On my long commute, there are only a couple stoplights, so I can average my normal crusing speed of around 18 mph. On my short commute with my fixed, I average only about 10 mph, both because of all the stops and the fact my fixie is geared to be slower so I can make it up the hills. I don't know exactly because I refuse to put a computer on such a refined and simplified piece of machinery. If I want to be a speed demon, I've got other bikes for that.
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Old 03-22-06, 12:26 PM   #17
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How many folks here do not use a bike computer, and never have? I'm one of 'em. I just don't care that much about the details, as long as I get where I need to be on time.

But I'm not a sports cyclist or training for anything. My bike gets me to work and errands, so I'm usually not trying to push myself too hard. I do notice I tend to pass a lot of other bikers (the pokey ones) and I like to go fast, but I do that when I'm walking too.
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Old 03-22-06, 12:35 PM   #18
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One of my favorite cycling related quotes:

I came out for exercise, gentle exercise, and to notice the scenery and to botanise. And no sooner do I get on that accursed machine than off I go hammer and tongs; I never look to right or left, never notice a flower, never see a view - get hot, juicy, red - like a grilled chop. Get me on that machine and I have to go. I go scorching along the road, and cursing aloud at myself for doing it.
~H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance
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Old 03-22-06, 12:37 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
My average speed isn't much higher. On my long commute, there are only a couple stoplights, so I can average my normal crusing speed of around 18 mph. On my short commute with my fixed, I average only about 10 mph, both because of all the stops and the fact my fixie is geared to be slower so I can make it up the hills. I don't know exactly because I refuse to put a computer on such a refined and simplified piece of machinery. If I want to be a speed demon, I've got other bikes for that.
You point out some elements that might determine mine to be a little
slower actually I might only have to stop twice in an 8 mile
commute from where I am into the closest town. If I were to have a
few definate stops It would probably dip into the little-kid-on-a-BMX
bike speed range . When I started to ride my fixie, I actually dropped about
2 whole minutes on the 8 mile commute compared to the bike I rode previously.
Go figure . I think the reason is that despite the lower, hill friendly gearing
I am pedalling the whole way and on the geared bike I coasted more than I realized.
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Old 03-22-06, 12:41 PM   #20
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I checked the 14-17 mph button. Had I answered this question last November, after only a month of occasional commuting, I would have checked the 12-15 mph button, and would have said that when I looked down the typical value would have been 13 or 14 mph. Nowadays, the typical value is 15 or 16 mph.

I have a 3.3 mi commute (one way) and I generally do the first mile slowly, then speed up. I treat the commute as light exercise, so that I get warm but don't sweat too much at this time of the year, with temperatures in the 40's to low 60's typical when I commute. Usually I warm up enough to take off my long-sleeve shirt (over my bike forum Alert shirt), or at least open it up for the last mile, in which there is a short (1/4 mile long) but steep hill. I have a fan at my desk at work, so if I am sweaty, I turn it on for five minutes. Although I have a rack on my bike, I generally use a somewhat overloaded backpack, which is the main reason I'm a bit sweaty.
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Old 03-22-06, 12:53 PM   #21
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I checked the 18+ button. I would consider 20-22mph my cruising speed, even on the commute. I started bike commuting while training for triathlons; it was so much simpler to ride directly from work than to take the bus home and get the bike. Now I have young kids and time is at a premium so I still use the commute as training time.
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Old 03-22-06, 01:03 PM   #22
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Wow, a lot of you guys are really fast. I don't think I would feel safe at some of your high usual speeds. I really should have checked the 12-15 button, but really it's more like 11-13 for me. And I'm doing the best I can! (By the way, the bike computer for me is mostly for distance. I want to know how much I ride. And how fast down hill. Otherwise, I am not all that concerned with it.)

I've got a lot of you beat on max speed, though: 39.9. Just couldn't get it to 40. My mantra: "light touch, don't squeeze, light touch, don't squeeze." I didn't want to panic brake at that speed!

Anyway, I never would have thought that you use speed as a safety measure. I slow down a little when I want to increase my safety.
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Old 03-22-06, 01:04 PM   #23
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Diane,

Not that I am a speed freak, but how fast have you ridden on that trike coming down the hills of sunny, Southern California?

EDIT: add-- OK I sould have just thought real hard and waited, since you beat me to the post while I was posting. I presume that that speed is on your trike? Does it feel "twitchy" with such a short wheelbase?
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Old 03-22-06, 01:13 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
I think the speed/safety issue has more to do with comfort and practice with timing maneuvers than anything else. I usually ride between 15 and 20 mph in traffic, so I feel comfortable maneuvering at that speed. Any slower, and my timing is off. Faster, and I feel that cars start taking too long to pass me, making it less comfortable to share a lane and again, throwing my timing for maneuvers off.

That said, I think that anyone can get accustomed to riding in traffic at almost any speed.
That said, the slower one rides relative to other traffic, the more difficult it becomes to time moves while merging into traffic... This was even observed and mentioned by John Forester. It again comes down to that speed delta thing. So while one can ride at 8MPH, merging into 50+MPH traffic can be quite difficult, especially if it is dense traffic. That difficulty can border on "impossible," again depending on the density and mood of the motor vehicles and drivers. (some drivers can be pretty darn dense... )
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Old 03-22-06, 01:13 PM   #25
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My wife got me a computer a while back. It is a real nice P-Brain with an altimeter and HRM. I like to display only the HRM so that I dont get all caught up in how fast or slow I am going. Of course I can download later and see the max and aveerage.

I think that it is important to not get yourself all hung up on your speed. I've found that the HRM is probably the best feature of the computer since it keeps me from blowing myself up and, therefore helps me to improve faster, with less pain.
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