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  1. #1
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    Lane position while climbing

    Every morning I climb a pretty major hill on my way to work where my average speed is between 5 and 8mph for about 2 miles. What is the safest thing to do when traveling at such low speeds? The sidewalk is poorly maintained, so that's out of the question. I would feel guilty riding in the lane and forcing rush hour traffic to go 5mph while I huff my way up the hill. Usually I just ride to the extreme right (in the door zone actually) and then merge left when I need to turn. Merging into the lane makes me nervous every morning and I'd like to find a way to safely avoid it. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,
    dex
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    walk up the hill on the sidewalk? it'll exercise the muscles that the bike misses.

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    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    I maintain the position that is safest for me...if that means someone has to wait a bit before they can pass, oh well. If the lane is wide enough to share, I'll stay far enough right to share it...if not, so sorry, hope you ain't in a big hurry.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Chepooka StupidlyBrave's Avatar
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    I have something similar. It's about 1/2 mile, somewhat steep and has no shoulder or sidewalk.

    I add a mile or so to my commute to avoid it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dexeqex View Post
    Every morning I climb a pretty major hill on my way to work where my average speed is between 5 and 8mph for about 2 miles. What is the safest thing to do when traveling at such low speeds? The sidewalk is poorly maintained, so that's out of the question. I would feel guilty riding in the lane and forcing rush hour traffic to go 5mph while I huff my way up the hill. Usually I just ride to the extreme right (in the door zone actually) and then merge left when I need to turn. Merging into the lane makes me nervous every morning and I'd like to find a way to safely avoid it. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,
    dex
    Ride 4 ft out from the parked cars. This is, most definitely, as far to the right as practicable because it's barely outside of the door zone.

    They'll honk and complain, and maybe eventually the city will fix the problem.

    Or find a better (probably longer) route.

  6. #6
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    A two-mile uphill at 5-8 MPH? You've more patience than I...

    AND it has on-street parking?! Aiy yi yi...

    Well, walking for 2 miles is out of the question. I might actually consider the sidewalk (heretical on this board, and not something I'd usually say), provided it doesn't have 3" deep potholes, AND if there are not a lot of intersections, or pedestrians. It's not like you're making good time anyway. Any intersections should be handled like a pedestrian: stop and make sure it's okay to cross.

    OR, as recommended, ride outside the door zone, even if cars do have to move out to get around you. Make sure you are dressed visibly, hi-vis and reflective if you've got it. (Consider getting some if you don't.)

    If the car parking is pretty constant, try to keep a straight line instead of weaving in and out. If you come upon a long stretch of no parked cars, it's probably okay to move over into the parking lane at those points to allow more convenient passing, being extremely careful about moving back out well in advance, gradually, and with signals when you come upon more parked cars up ahead. Similarly, if cars begin backing up behind you while you are out in the lane, courtesy dictates you should try to find a safe place to pull over for a minute or so to let some go by. Hopefully it's not so congested that you can't find a gap to pull back into again afterwards.

    For the left turn, don't force the issue if it seems unsafe. Is there a crosswalk in which you could dismount and walk across, when clear?

    I don't see any real good options, but I think the sidewalk or outside the door zone are both better ones than inside the door zone. Not only could you get doored, the dooring could also knock you right into traffic, or you could swerve into traffic trying to avoid the door.

    OR just find another route.

    Good luck and be safe.
    Last edited by JohnBrooking; 05-01-08 at 08:45 PM.
    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?!
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Senexs's Avatar
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    you could prearrange taxi ride, during those 3kms, just take out your front wheel with proper wrench tool when cab arrives, or add electric assist, bionx or crystalyte are two brands. or train your leg sasquatch muscles more.

  8. #8
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    Is the door zone really that much of a danger at 5 mph? At that speed with a steep incline I'd think you could stop almost instantly. Is this a two lane or multi lane road? How's the ride back down?
    Last edited by AlmostTrick; 05-01-08 at 08:54 PM.
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  9. #9
    n00b-sauce
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    No amount of stopping quickness will stop someone from opening the door on you when you are right next to it. I'd find a way around.
    I like to ride bikes. I miss living in the city though, where it was all a bike's ride away. City dwellers: appreciate it. :D

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    I'm finding it hard to see how to advise you on this question without really knowing the road. A 2-mile up hill at 5-8mph is a stiff climb- and lined with parked cars no less?

    where are you riding? Can we see it on Google maps or better yet "Street View"?

    when you say rush hour traffic how heavy a volume of traffic is it?- cars/minute or fraction thereof

    Is it a winding uphill where you're not visible until the cars are right on top of you or are you visible from a distance?

    Are you capable of holding a straight line while climbing or are you a bit wobbly?

    Can traffic pull wide into another lane to pass you?

    I'd probably ride it relatively far out to the left- away from the car doors and carefully adjust my position further right at times if I was holding up the cars for too long but I might be inclined to be far enough in the lane to let the cars move around me if need be but couldn't say with certainty unless I saw it or rode it.

    I might also explore an alternative route.

  11. #11
    Blasted Weeds Tude's Avatar
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    I ride very busy city traffic - I ride as a vehicle and they hate me. I adhere to the road rules and they hate me more. And after several years of commuting - I've identified some stretches of road that I will NOT travel, even me. Too many close calls, arses, and man - some really horrible incidents. A few that were bad enough that I quit commuting a couple of years right around Spring - saying eff it - it ain't worth it. Well then I get back on the bike and ....

    But what I've done is found some different routes to my workplace (center of downtown go figure) - I ride a mtb where I can span a curb or set of steps or two if I have to - and I've found alleys, openings into a large apt complex that allows me to click off a couple blocks of nasty traffic fighting to get onto the innerloop/expressway - takes me a little longer but it is SOOOOO well worth it. I nearly quit commuting due to a couple of close calls/odd incidents - I didn't feel so confident anymore - and I usually am. Don't like this intimidation stuff. So I did the best thing and found some alternate routes because I want to commute - and I refuse to let them (ignorant car/truck drivers) intimidate me either.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by YULitle View Post
    No amount of stopping quickness will stop someone from opening the door on you when you are right next to it. I'd find a way around.
    Does this actually happen? I know that people don't look down the road to make sure they aren't opening their door into a cyclist, but straight across? And i don't even think it would be that serious if they did, unless they really put a lot of weight into swinging their door open I can't imagine they would even knock you off your bike.
    what kind of bell should i get for my track bike?

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    Quote Originally Posted by musicsucks View Post
    Does this actually happen? I know that people don't look down the road to make sure they aren't opening their door into a cyclist, but straight across? And i don't even think it would be that serious if they did, unless they really put a lot of weight into swinging their door open I can't imagine they would even knock you off your bike.
    next time you get out of a car, pay special attention to how you do it. Most people open the door and get out in one fluid, quick motion, not a series of steps (i.e. open door, wait, get out). As a result they are putting the weight of their body into that door opening. Going at 5mph you might be able to dodge it IF you wanted to put yourself at further risk darting unexpectedly into traffic. Yes, someone getting out of the car without looking could knock you over even at slow speeds.

    To the OP, if there isn't a bike lane and there are no viable alternative routes, you have to take the lane. I would search long and hard for an alternative route, if it was me.

  14. #14
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dexeqex View Post
    Every morning I climb a pretty major hill on my way to work where my average speed is between 5 and 8mph for about 2 miles. What is the safest thing to do when traveling at such low speeds? The sidewalk is poorly maintained, so that's out of the question. I would feel guilty riding in the lane and forcing rush hour traffic to go 5mph while I huff my way up the hill. Usually I just ride to the extreme right (in the door zone actually) and then merge left when I need to turn. Merging into the lane makes me nervous every morning and I'd like to find a way to safely avoid it. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,
    dex

    Hmmm...well, it seems to me:

    (a) if the traffic is largely bumper to bumper or within one car length most of the way, they can't be going that fast to begin with (or shouldn't...not the same thing! ), in which case you are not slowing them down much anyway and should feel perfectly justified taking your lane. Or....

    (b) there is enough of a gap between cars in both directions that they can damn well decide to pass you (as they would a vehicle) if it is safe for them to do so.

    Damn a line of parked cars sure is intimidating, even if you suspect they are all empty. I am always afraid a dog or kid is gonna hop out in between...aside from the dooring issue.

    I woudn't feel too guilty putting your safety over drivers convenience.

    roughstuff
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicsucks View Post
    Does this actually happen? I know that people don't look down the road to make sure they aren't opening their door into a cyclist, but straight across? And i don't even think it would be that serious if they did, unless they really put a lot of weight into swinging their door open I can't imagine they would even knock you off your bike.
    That would really depend on the door.. Camaro/Firebird doors are notoriously heavy suckers and take lot of force to move, not only that their 4ft long! at that to having to open them uphill.. and They'll make short work of any biker. its the one thing i hate on my camaro. heavy ass door.
    Last edited by Nova5; 05-02-08 at 09:46 AM.

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    ok - give us the route

    give us a start and end point - doesn't have to be exact, of course, just relatively close, so we can satisfy our collectively curiosity and see if there is another way around.


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    Quote Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
    Is the door zone really that much of a danger at 5 mph? At that speed with a steep incline I'd think you could stop almost instantly. Is this a two lane or multi lane road? How's the ride back down?
    Normally I would avoid the door zone at all costs, but going that slow its always felt pretty safe. There are a lot of students who live on the street, too and I don't think many of them are getting in or out of their cars at 7:30am.

    The road is two lanes (one in each direction) with intermittant car parking and fairly wide lanes. I'm not sure what the posted speed limit is but people are generally traveling between 40 and 45mph. It's fairly busy in the morning maybe 10 or 15 cars pass me per minute, but there are stoplights along it so traffic moves in pulses. There isn't a crosswalk that I could use to take a left. Actually, there's a guard rail separating the sidewalk from the road which disappears about 100ft past the intersection.

    My whole commute is only 2.5mi OW, and the ride back down makes the ride up worth it. No question about lane position then, I sit firmly in the middle of the lane the whole way down. BTW my average speed on the way down is 27-30mph, mostly coasting.
    Drive Less Think More

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
    I'm finding it hard to see how to advise you on this question without really knowing the road. A 2-mile up hill at 5-8mph is a stiff climb- and lined with parked cars no less?

    where are you riding? Can we see it on Google maps or better yet "Street View"?

    Is it a winding uphill where you're not visible until the cars are right on top of you or are you visible from a distance?

    Are you capable of holding a straight line while climbing or are you a bit wobbly?

    Can traffic pull wide into another lane to pass you?

    I'd probably ride it relatively far out to the left- away from the car doors and carefully adjust my position further right at times if I was holding up the cars for too long but I might be inclined to be far enough in the lane to let the cars move around me if need be but couldn't say with certainty unless I saw it or rode it.

    I might also explore an alternative route.
    I'm at work now, I'll work on posting a google maps link sometime this weekend.

    There are some gentle curves on the hill but it's mostly straight

    I can hold a line. I'm out of the saddle for most of it.

    Cars can pass me using the opposing lane, but they would have to follow me at 5mph for at least a minute before there was a break in oncoming traffic. During that time a line of about 45 cars would pile up behind us and I would be obliged to pull off the road and wait for them all to pass. Normally I don't mind forcing drivers to slow to 15 or 20mph for a few seconds to wait, but holding up that many people just seems rude.

    Alternative routes are possible, but not ideal. The reason I ride the road I do is because it curves around the steepest part of the hill. Alternative routes all involve going straight up a really steep grade (I'm not sure how to estimate, but I'd say it's between 10 and 12%), or following a four lane 55mph arterial which I'd like to avoid.

    Thanks for all the comments.
    Drive Less Think More

  19. #19
    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dexeqex View Post
    During that time a line of about 45 cars would pile up behind us and I would be obliged to pull off the road and wait for them all to pass. Normally I don't mind forcing drivers to slow to 15 or 20mph for a few seconds to wait, but holding up that many people just seems rude.
    And probably illegal, so you're playing it safe...

  20. #20
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Is the parallel parking for 2mi? That's a lot of parking spots. What happens to 45mph traffic flow when some one parks?

    Al

  21. #21
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Forget the guilt. Do you feel guilty when driving a car, stopped to turn left across traffic waiting for the oncoming traffic to clear, and holding up a line of cars behind you? I don't. Ride where it is safest for you, don't give another thought to the convenience of car drivers.
    Not too much to say here

  22. #22
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    If you had over 12 feet of lane outside of the door zone to use, you have a few options. Ride out in the middle of the lane in between gaps of traffic and slow people down to your speed (a mirror will be very helpful here). Then move over and let people pass you at a reasonable speed (i.e. not 45mph when you are going 5-8). If you don't have enough room to stay out of the door zone, again you could ride in the lane between gaps in traffic then slow down and move into the door zone briefly while traffic passes. IMO, riding at walking speed makes door zone riding almost a non-issue, especially if it's only for brief moments. Otherwise, just take the lane, let traffic pile up behind you and pull over and stop when it gets too bad.

    I have a 3/4 mile hill right before work where on a good day I'll hold 10mph. It has a few blind hill crests and one blind curve making passing a little difficult. The lane width is about 10 feet (this is after they widened the road). With lots of oncoming traffic, I can really slow people down. Then again, so do the construction vehicles when they use this road. Most of the time, no one sits behind me for more then 10 or 20 seconds before having a relatively good spot to pass. I used to dread this hill but it's become one of the more enjoyable parts of my commute as I get to spend a lot of time communicating with drivers and am often rewarded with friendly waves for helping people pass. I definitely get more waves than honks. Imagine that

  23. #23
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    Forget the guilt. Do you feel guilty when driving a car, stopped to turn left across traffic waiting for the oncoming traffic to clear, and holding up a line of cars behind you? I don't. Ride where it is safest for you, don't give another thought to the convenience of car drivers.
    I concur. However, the slower I am going, the farther to the right I tend to ride.

    The other reason to avoid the door zone is to give you an out if someone starts to pull away from the curb, or if a pedestrian materializes from between two parked cars.

    I see plenty of them around here, but no street with parallel parking should have a speed limit greater than 35mph. Unfortunately, California law is biased such that the fastest 16% of all motorsts determine the enforceable speed limit for the sane 84%.

    If I were in your situation, I would probably opt for the 12% grade (been there ... done that, for those familiar with Lusk Bl. coming up from VIsta Sorrento Parkway, just above Sorrento Valley in San Diego's Telecomm Corridor).
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  24. #24
    ---- buzzman's Avatar
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    you say the lanes are "fairly wide" and all of a sudden this feels rideable to me. I might be inclined (no pun intended) to position myself just inches outside of the door zone and hope the wider lanes give enough passing room for most vehicles. I'd move into the door zone to make passing room for trucks and signal my way further left afterwards.

    This strategy is a compromise over holding the lane and holding up traffic and often results in some pretty close passes by some cars. If you can put up with the occasional buzz of the close pass or two then it's not too bad.

    Granted moving further left into the lane might actually be a safer alternative but it will definitely make you an object of derision for some, though not all, drivers.

    BTW, though I'd like to see it on google maps or street view I find those views tend to make all roads look pretty manageable- it can be deceiving.

  25. #25
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StrangeWill View Post
    And probably illegal, so you're playing it safe...
    Well, we don't know what state the poster is in, but there's only a handful of states that require a cyclist to pull over if traffic is backed up, and they all require that there be a safe place to turn out, which there doesn't seem to be from his description.
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