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Old 02-28-07, 04:12 PM   #1
rando
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AC: Parking Lots and Alleys

a lot of us ride across parking lots, behind buildings and in alleys as part of our regular routes. any tips for navigating these successfully and efficiently?

to me, really busy suburban parking lots are a nightmare. so many ways to get slammed. I like to ride around the periphery of the lot and then go along parallel to the storefronts to get where I'm going, if it's one of the stores in the strip mall...and in back of the buildings if I'm just trying to cut through to get somewhere in the next block. behind the buildings your only problem is delivery trucks and they are usually parked.
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Old 02-28-07, 04:34 PM   #2
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AC Tip: Go around them.

An adaptive cyclist will find an alternate route that avoids the type of hazards you point out. That is what I have done for this very reason.

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Old 02-28-07, 05:17 PM   #3
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I try to avoid the parts of the parking lot that are cluttered with cars. If I can I cruise across the part of the lot where no one parks and I am visible from all directions. If I have to ride in the thick of things I try to do it in a vc fashion out in the middle of the lanes so as to avoid car doors and stupid people.
As for alleys I treat every alley mouth as a stop sign as it is really hard to see approaching peds and cars usually.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:59 PM   #4
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Parking lots are a mess. I just try to be hyper-alert. The bike flag on my trike helps a lot, too.

I'd never consider using a parking lot as a daily shortcut.
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Old 02-28-07, 09:24 PM   #5
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I avoid using parking lots as part of my route. I do use them at shopping centers, the supermarket etc and am super vigilant. I'm very assertive in terms of taking as much space and time to move through as possible since the cars should be going just above walking speed for much of the parking lot and should be watching for pedestrians so they can just wait for me. I'm quite tall (6'3") and sit up and take advantage of my height so I can see over cars. I watch for things like tail pipe exhaust in cold weather so I have an idea that a car is occupied. I watch for brake lights and reverse/back up lights. I'm in hyper vigilence mode in a parking lot. Having a horn or bell or a good loud voice helps, too. And watch for slow moving cars with drivers who are looking for somewhere to park and will suddenly accelerate when they see that empty spot open up- they're the ones that will get ya'.

Alleyways I do use in Boston on occasion. There are some that run parallel to Beacon Street and Commonwealth. I ride right in the center of the lane. These alleys have speed bumps and lots of potholes so both cars and bicyclists can't get too much speed anyway. This is another place I am assertive and do not apologize or move out of the way for a car if it is behind me. They shouldn't be travelling through an alley any faster than I am so we're equals in that sense. I watch for pedestrians, cars backing up and yecch!- rats. Again, I sit way up, hands on brakes and in hyper-vigilent mode.
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Old 02-28-07, 09:56 PM   #6
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PArking lots are great when they are empty or when there is no traffic entering or leaving. There is a parking lot for a commuter rail statiion that I take a short cut through occasionally douring the middle of the day - full of cars but they wont be moving till the evening rush hour.
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Old 02-28-07, 10:49 PM   #7
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Look out for those concrete car stops and backers.
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Old 03-01-07, 12:49 AM   #8
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parking lots- go slow. sit up tall. I expect drivers to have an even MORE autocentric, possessive attitude in parking lots around malls, etc. than on the roads. I.E. "this is a parking lot for CARS, dagnabit"

parking lots bring out the WORST in drivers. I got roadraged in a big fred meyer parking lot once- a guy was tailgaiting me, and laying on the horn. guess he needed to park quicker or something...

alleys- watch out for turds, junkies, and broken crack pipes. Alleys are nice sometimes, and come in handy when the lights and traffic are working against you, but must be vigilant about crossing the streets.

On one street locally here, if you get caught at a certain light approaching downtown, there's a REALLY long wait. but, by just riding a half block over, you can get in the alley and get several blocks ahead than if you were still waiting at the light.
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Old 03-01-07, 06:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
parking lots- go slow. sit up tall. I expect drivers to have an even MORE autocentric, possessive attitude in parking lots around malls, etc. than on the roads. I.E. "this is a parking lot for CARS, dagnabit"

parking lots bring out the WORST in drivers. I got roadraged in a big fred meyer parking lot once- a guy was tailgaiting me, and laying on the horn. guess he needed to park quicker or something...

alleys- watch out for turds, junkies, and broken crack pipes. Alleys are nice sometimes, and come in handy when the lights and traffic are working against you, but must be vigilant about crossing the streets.

On one street locally here, if you get caught at a certain light approaching downtown, there's a REALLY long wait. but, by just riding a half block over, you can get in the alley and get several blocks ahead than if you were still waiting at the light.
Parking lots also bring out the worst in meat pylons, they come out of store, yapping on the $%#@!*& cell phone, don't look where they are going... Things don't improve when they get to the car, because they are still on the phone, still yapping about stuff that is total male bovine manure, and then they start driving, 99.9999999% of their attention is still on the $&*! phone.
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Old 03-01-07, 10:43 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Wogsterca
meat pylons.
That ones going in the book next to cagers. That's hillarious.
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Old 03-01-07, 06:30 PM   #11
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I use parking lots and alleys in my daily commute. This is because my workplace is surrounded by parking lots, and it sits between two one-way streets that totally mess up the traffic flow. and of course we all ride through parking lots whenever we go to a store.

Parking lots are arguably the riskiest places we ride. Like others said, sit up and take it slow. Watch for reverse lights and listen for engines starting. Short people walking between cars are another hazard. So are kids "surfing" on shopping carts. Somebody mentioned riding fast in the parts of the lot where there aren't any cars parked. But be alert there too, especially at night. Cars come at you from all angles. Those coming from four o'closk and eight o'clock can't see your lights and reflectors, so watch out for them.
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Old 03-01-07, 06:46 PM   #12
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You do have to be hyper alert when riding in parking lots because of reasons like people backing out their cars who are likely to be looking for cars, not bikes, but parking lots do have one big advantage: traffic is usually slow enough to where full lane control is practical and effective most if not all of the time. I think bicyclists and motorcyclists are about equally vulnerable in parking lots, and have the same reasons to use or avoid them.
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Old 03-01-07, 07:02 PM   #13
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One other tip for parking lots. I usually ride in the center of the lane. Mostly this is to have maximum space/time to respond to cagers backing out from either side. It also makes me a little more visible. Finally, center positioning discourages cagers from passing me, even though they SHOULD NOT be moving any faster than I am--5 to 10 mph.
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