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Old 05-22-08, 09:46 AM   #1
J.Lockdown
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Riding in traffic worth the risk?

So I get home normally around 5 and take bike rides before dinner. I live right in the middle of several roads that have moderate traffic (not stop and go, more slow driving). I have routes that take me down these roads but I have been some what concerned about them.

The main road I want to ride on is 2 (1 each way) and with very narrow shoulder if one at all. I dont stay on this road the whole time but I would uses it on the way back in my loop. I understand I have a right to be on the road like a car but their are a couple risks with it. Were their is no shoulder I feel a driver might try and pass me but do something stupid because they are frustrated with me being their.

So my question is, is it really worth riding in traffic and just being careful? or is it better to take the side walk for the parts that have no shoulder?
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Old 05-22-08, 09:52 AM   #2
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I believe that riding in sidewalk is usually more dangerous. Drivers making turns are not looking for you on the sidewalk. I personally will always ride on the road.

How fast is the flow of traffic on this road? If it's a 1-lane road, it is less likely to be moving at high speeds. How far do you have to ride on this road?
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Old 05-22-08, 09:52 AM   #3
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or is it better to take the side walk for the parts that have no shoulder?
No. Every cyclist fears getting hit from behind, but statistically this is a rare occurance. You are safer in the road taking the lane than you are on the sidewalk. In fact, you are 6 times more likely to get hit if you ride on the side walk.
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Old 05-22-08, 09:59 AM   #4
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No. Every cyclist fears getting hit from behind, but statistically this is a rare occurance. You are safer in the road taking the lane than you are on the sidewalk. In fact, you are 6 times more likely to get hit if you ride on the side walk.
That is a interesting and good statistic. It is hard to think you are worse riding on the sidewalk then road but it I guess it is true.

The only reason I bring this up is I never see any other road bikers out when I am, and their are a bunch in the area.

The traffic is around 25-35mph and their is traffic because it goes from 2 lanes were I live each way to 1 lane up the street. Their is a large merge area that tends to have a lot of cars but I think I would be ok. I ride on it for about 1 mile before making my right to start part of the loop. Then I would return on it for about 3 miles. I am not a extremely fast rider but I can keep up with the flow of traffic, at least yesterday before I found broken glass in front of me.

Also the side walks are not that great (concrete slabs so its bumpy). I have to stand up some what to keep my seat from hurting my butt even with my padded shorts. Also i guess it takes a toll on the bike to.

I guess I really just need to get over the fact that I am pissing people off when they are trying to ride. I am going to try my route today and see what happens, if I piss someone off its their fault I guess, I am doing nothing wrong.

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Old 05-22-08, 10:04 AM   #5
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if I piss someone off its their fault I guess, I am doing nothing wrong.
Just keep repeating this in your mind. Let us know how it goes.
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Old 05-22-08, 10:17 AM   #6
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I'm not real familiar with Gaithersburg, but I do know that it is likely to be pretty congested with commuter traffic at the time of the day you are talking about. If I understand correctly, this is the root of your concern. I have the same problem here in Manassas.

My solution is to try to avoid peak traffic times, or at least avoid the most heavily travelled roads during peak traffic times. Around here it's a whole different world between about 4:30 and 6:30 or so than during the rest of the day.
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Old 05-22-08, 10:52 AM   #7
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it depends entirely on your area's conditions, situation, environment and your comfort level. If you feel more comfortable on the sidewalk and it's legal, ride there. You just have to ride with traffic and be extra careful and go slower. or, see if there are alternate routes you could take that have less traffic.
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Old 05-22-08, 10:57 AM   #8
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No. Every cyclist fears getting hit from behind, but statistically this is a rare occurance. You are safer in the road taking the lane than you are on the sidewalk. In fact, you are 6 times more likely to get hit if you ride on the side walk.
Where did you get your statistics?
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Old 05-22-08, 11:01 AM   #9
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In fact, you are 6 times more likely to get hit if you ride on the side walk.
But if there are no intersections for the stretch (or if the cyclist stops at each one and carefully proceeds) then this is irrelevant.
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Old 05-22-08, 11:19 AM   #10
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But if there are no intersections for the stretch (or if the cyclist stops at each one and carefully proceeds) then this is irrelevant.
+many

All depends on the road, the traffic, the sidewalk, your skills and your tolerance. And only you can determine what's best for your own safety.
Although I usually prefer riding the road, sidewalks can be a good alternate if the situation requires it (like route 1 in Beltsville or route 7 in Bailey's Cross Roads). Just don't get complacent and think that you are automatically safe by using the sidewalk. Treat every intersection as if it were your last.

btw which road in Gaitherburg are you referring to?
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Old 05-22-08, 11:31 AM   #11
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Yeah hon, can you google map it for us maybe? Also, Bikely.com is a great source for getting some riding routes. There are some routes posted for Gaithersburg.
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Old 05-22-08, 12:05 PM   #12
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So I get home normally around 5 and take bike rides before dinner. I live right in the middle of several roads that have moderate traffic (not stop and go, more slow driving). I have routes that take me down these roads but I have been some what concerned about them.

The main road I want to ride on is 2 (1 each way) and with very narrow shoulder if one at all. I dont stay on this road the whole time but I would uses it on the way back in my loop. I understand I have a right to be on the road like a car but their are a couple risks with it. Were their is no shoulder I feel a driver might try and pass me but do something stupid because they are frustrated with me being their.

So my question is, is it really worth riding in traffic and just being careful? or is it better to take the side walk for the parts that have no shoulder?
Depends on how fast you want to get home.
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Old 05-22-08, 12:52 PM   #13
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I dont currently commute to work, this is a new route I wanted to try out as part of my fitness ride. I have another one I normally do around 10miles but wanted to try this one. Also my average speed is around 10-20mph as I can determine based on traffic riding around me.

Here is the route from google maps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...,0.160675&z=13
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Old 05-22-08, 01:05 PM   #14
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Yeah hon, can you google map it for us maybe? Also, Bikely.com is a great source for getting some riding routes. There are some routes posted for Gaithersburg.
Thanks for the site. I checked it out and those are some great routes, and actually some I though to plan out at some point. I am going to give 1 of them a try this Saturday up in Boyds because it has low traffic near my other house.
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Old 05-22-08, 01:21 PM   #15
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On huge benifit to riding with kids.


There is a whole generation being raised ina bubblewrap society. My kids know what it is like to have fun and be daring. WITH supervision. not the sterile environemnt of a minivan with the DVD paly EVERY time you need to go somewhere.
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Old 05-22-08, 02:21 PM   #16
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On huge benifit to riding with kids.


There is a whole generation being raised ina bubblewrap society. My kids know what it is like to have fun and be daring. WITH supervision. not the sterile environemnt of a minivan with the DVD paly EVERY time you need to go somewhere.
I am some what confused by your reply?
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Old 05-22-08, 03:51 PM   #17
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Where did you get your statistics?
I read that when I started commuting five years ago. A quick google didn't find it. Instead I turned up this Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections which shows only a 1.8x greater risk for cyclists on crosswalks.

Either way the perception that you will get hit from behind it just that, a perception. The truth is that you should be far more worried about cars pulling in front of you or right hooking you, both of which are more common if you are on a sidewalk.
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Old 05-22-08, 04:46 PM   #18
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So I am glad to say the ride went perfect today. Thanks for all the input guys on the going on the road or not.

Motorist were pretty kind today and traffic was actually not bad once I got off 28 (Darnestown road). Waved to another biker coming up on Rffleford road (he was wearing a team discovery jersey). Also found that motorist well at least the ones that paced me did so in a safe way, and I also waived a couple around were the path was clear. Also found out I was wrong about the main road 28, it actually has a bike lane the whole stretch or at least were I was riding. Did not uses a sidewalk at all stayed only on the road.

Found one problem with the ride however was since it is 2 lane road when someone wants to turn left traffic needs to uses the shoulder to go around. So I decided to wait a little ways down for the person to turn so I would not get possible forced off the road by someone not watching.

Besides that the ride was great, went so well I actually went all the way down 28 to Muddy Branch Rd and back to my house with a total of 14 miles. The wind was going good on the way back but the sun was out and it was warm so it was all good.

If anyone is interested here is the route I took today. It is some what hilly in a couple spots but gave a nice workout and a decent road surface.
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...94b73c8c16a87a

Thanks again guys for all the support.
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Old 05-22-08, 05:14 PM   #19
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But if there are no intersections for the stretch (or if the cyclist stops at each one and carefully proceeds) then this is irrelevant.
Lol, the cyclists that say they stop at everyone one are so full of ****.
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Old 05-22-08, 05:18 PM   #20
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Lol, the cyclists that say they stop at everyone one are so full of ****.
I've never heard a cyclist say they do.
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Old 05-22-08, 05:20 PM   #21
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I will generally slow down enough that if I need to clip out I have plenty of time to, but I dont stop unless its a red light or somethings blocking me.
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Old 05-22-08, 09:50 PM   #22
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Found one problem with the ride however was since it is 2 lane road when someone wants to turn left traffic needs to uses the shoulder to go around. So I decided to wait a little ways down for the person to turn so I would not get possible forced off the road by someone not watching.
It sounds like you are sharing the lane (or riding on the shoulder) to the right of traffic here. If so, when you see a left turning car ahead, you may consider negotiating a merge (look back and signal) into the center of the traffic lane so there is no car next to you. Since everyone will be slowing to go around the turning car, this shouldn't be hard to do. Then you can pass the stopped car safely just like the motorists. Make it clear that you are not also intending to turn left with your lane position and speed.

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Old 05-23-08, 08:12 AM   #23
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So I am glad to say the ride went perfect today. Thanks for all the input guys on the going on the road or not.

Motorist were pretty kind today and traffic was actually not bad once I got off 28 (Darnestown road). Waved to another biker coming up on Rffleford road (he was wearing a team discovery jersey). Also found that motorist well at least the ones that paced me did so in a safe way, and I also waived a couple around were the path was clear. Also found out I was wrong about the main road 28, it actually has a bike lane the whole stretch or at least were I was riding. Did not uses a sidewalk at all stayed only on the road.

Found one problem with the ride however was since it is 2 lane road when someone wants to turn left traffic needs to uses the shoulder to go around. So I decided to wait a little ways down for the person to turn so I would not get possible forced off the road by someone not watching.

Besides that the ride was great, went so well I actually went all the way down 28 to Muddy Branch Rd and back to my house with a total of 14 miles. The wind was going good on the way back but the sun was out and it was warm so it was all good.

If anyone is interested here is the route I took today. It is some what hilly in a couple spots but gave a nice workout and a decent road surface.
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...94b73c8c16a87a

Thanks again guys for all the support.
That is a great area for riding. Every now and then I will ride from East Falls Church up to Poolesville with a few buds. Makes for a pretty hilly and long ride.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:49 AM   #24
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Yeah it was some what hilly and with the wind it took the life right out of my legs.

Today I am going to try and do a 10 mile stretch of Route 28 (DarnesTown Rd) to see how it is. I think it is some what flat with a couple large hills which should be fine. We will see what happens, I need to figure out how long the bike lane goes and how the ride is.

Also anyone thats interested here is the route:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...6cccb65b4b933b
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