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Thread: safe commuting

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    Super Moderator making's Avatar
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    safe commuting

    It is 13 miles to work. Most of the way I usually go is 4 lane city streets with traffic pretty busted up by stop lights. Some are downtown streets iwth parking on both sides. 30 years ago I rode everywhere and was never worried about getting hit. It may be becasue I am older but I have cut back my commutes to one day a week. I also jog and work out in other ways, but I would like to ride to work at least 3 days per week and possibly more. I am not completely adverse to risk, but I like to keep it reasonable. Is it reasonably safe to commute to work in city traffic? I just drove my pickup over to get my kids and the lady in the car beside me was texting while driving. There are bike lanes but they are difficult to get to and cars seem to buzz me more when I am in hte lane. I think I perfer to be in traffic. I also follow "almost" all traffic laws. I know no one can answer this for me, but.... all things considered, is commuting worth the risk, at least for you?

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    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    I did it for years until I retired. Take up space, alot of space, as much as possible.
    Bicyclists should be like Hedgehogs, small, but so mean and nasty nobody will want to fool with them.
    Not too much to say here

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    Super Moderator making's Avatar
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    Damn, I like the attitude maddyfish.

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    Personally, I feel safer on the busy urban city streets than anywhere else. Its those quiet suburban streets and highways that really scare me.

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    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    I'm not a statistician, so I can't back this up with numbers, but I feel that a bike commuter who integrates with traffic, obeys the laws and right-of-way rules, is respectful of others but also confident and assertive, and remains vigilant, is no more likely, and maybe less likely, to get into a crash than the average road user. Of course the risk of injury is greater if you do, so all the more reason to remain vigilant. So yes, I think for me, commuting is well worth the risk, because I don't feel it is so very risky. Like learning to drive a car in traffic, it is daunting at first, but with practice and experience comes confidence and good habits.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

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    AEO
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    if you can shift the hours you work from lets say.. 9-5 to 10-6 you should be able to avoid a lot more congestion
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
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    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    I think it's totally safe to ride on city streets, as long as you obey traffic laws and assert yourself a little bit (but not to the point of being a jerk). I ride all over town, day or night, and I've never felt the least bit unsafe. There are roads I just won't ride, though:

    1. I won't ride on roads where the posted speed limit is greater than 35 mph, unless it has a wide shoulder or multiple lanes in each direction, with a low enough volume of traffic that cars can get around me without too much difficulty. When faced with a really busy road with all four lanes full of traffic, all the cars going over 50 mph and no shoulder, I won't even consider riding on it. (I generally prefer 30mph arterials, preferably with bike lanes that don't do double duty as street parking.)

    2. If I'm crossing a busy bridge that doesn't have a bike lane, I'll use the sidewalk. (I usually don't use the sidewalk, but in some cases I make an exception, and this is the main one.)
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    I won't ride on roads where the posted speed limit is greater than 35 mph, unless it has a wide shoulder or multiple lanes in each direction, with a low enough volume of traffic that cars can get around me without too much difficulty. When faced with a really busy road with all four lanes full of traffic, all the cars going over 50 mph and no shoulder, I won't even consider riding on it. (I generally prefer 30mph arterials, preferably with bike lanes that don't do double duty as street parking.)
    Nice fantasy... around here I could not go 2 miles if I followed your rules. Every road is marked at 45MPH, with motorists moving at much higher speeds.

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    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post

    2. If I'm crossing a busy bridge that doesn't have a bike lane, I'll use the sidewalk. (I usually don't use the sidewalk, but in some cases I make an exception, and this is the main one.)
    I know alot of cyclist have this attitude about bridges. I don't understand it at all. If I am crossing a busy bridge I'm taking then lane. End of story. No amount of beeping, yelling, or cussing would dislodge me from the center of the lane. I crossed the Taylor-Southgate bridge from Cincy to Newport for years this way, with 0 troubles.
    Now that we have the Purple People Bridge, that is for bikes/peds only, I don't have to cross the other bridge now.

    edit- and back when I was commuting, cussing, yelling, and beeping would have gotten you a couple hand-fulls of roofing nails in your tire track, but I've mellowed since then.
    Not too much to say here

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    www.chipsea.blogspot.com ChipSeal's Avatar
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    Just take the lane! It really changes the traffic dynamics and reduces the stress for the cyclist.

    Do an experiment. Ride down a multi-lane street with traffic like you normally do for 3-4 blocks. Then go back to the "start" and repeat the journey while taking the lane. You know, just to see.

    You will be given more room by everybody, traffic will not be nearly as disrupted as you imagine, and you will not be right hooked.

    Remember, if they honk at you, it means they see you!
    Vehicular cycling techniques have not been tried and found difficult. They have been presumed difficult and not tried.

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    4 lane city streets are the best roads for commuting in my opinion. Low enough speed limits that you can almost if not actually keep up with traffic, faster traffic has the left lane to use to pass, almost all right turners will not be turning from a position that could potentially surprise you, and you can (relatively) easily lane split should traffic back up really badly. Take a lane and keep it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lima_bean View Post
    Personally, I feel safer on the busy urban city streets than anywhere else. Its those quiet suburban streets and highways that really scare me.
    Agree. When there's lots of traffic, its much easier to take up the whole lane the whole time because its much easier to keep up with traffic. Cars will respect you more because you are going the same speed as the cars and not holding anyone up. Just watch for left turners in front of you.

    On lighter travelled streets, cars are in a hurry to pass you and will take risks with your safety to get around you.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    4 lane city streets are the best roads for commuting in my opinion. Low enough speed limits that you can almost if not actually keep up with traffic, faster traffic has the left lane to use to pass, almost all right turners will not be turning from a position that could potentially surprise you, and you can (relatively) easily lane split should traffic back up really badly. Take a lane and keep it.
    +1 If the lights are breaking up the traffic good that means you can probably keep pace or even out pace the cars.

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