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Old 04-01-09, 07:40 AM   #1
spock
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Bullhorns saved me from collision

About a month ago I got a new(old) bike with downtube shifters and those classic brakes. I've been extremely happy with the bike and the other day I decided to chop off the drops and make the bars onto bullhorns since I never used drops.

I took it for a ride and noticed the the brake leverage that I was getting was way more efficient compared to the way they used to be. Out of saddle acceleration has improved a lot too.

On the next ride I stopped at the red light behind one left turning car which I usually don't do. I run most of the reds, but that time I decided to politely wait and take it easy because I was still getting used to the new setup. The light turned green and I accelerated just enough to match the speed of the car in front of me. As soon as I got into the bike lane at the end of the turn, I started accelerating even more.

At that point the car in front of me just decided to make the right turn without blinkers on while I was about 7 ft. behind it in the bike lane. I was moving pretty fast at that point and when I realised the coplexity of my situation, I prepared for the impact but really dug into my brakes.

It took about 1 second for me to stop about a half a foot away from the impact. That one second seemed like about ten minutes. My whole life flashed in front of my eyes.

One of the things that I remember was the control I had over my braking. I pressed jast hard enough for the wheels not to lock up. I also remember my bike moving from side to side as I was braking and the gradual strenghtening of my grip as I was slowing down.

The person in the car did not even notice me. As I continued to pedal, my feet started shaking like crazy and as the whole thing was going rewind in my head I realised that I would have never stopped if I had drops style brake leverage.

I am surre that newer style brakes are more efficient on drops, but the setup that I used to have (1984 style) would never have stopped me on time and I would have had to deal with the consequences.
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Old 04-01-09, 07:46 AM   #2
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Wow. So is this an argument for us all to have bullhorns or something? Everybody who has "had their life saved" by a styrofoam hat thinks we should all wear one, just wondering if you are putting the same angle on this anecdote?
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Old 04-01-09, 07:50 AM   #3
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Wow. So is this an argument for us all to have bullhorns or something? Everybody who has "had their life saved" by a styrofoam hat thinks we should all wear one, just wondering if you are putting the same angle on this anecdote?
Do you take your no helmet propaganda everywhere you go, or do you just try to start arguements?

Spock - glad you are OK. It is good to know the leverage is better with a setup like yours!
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Old 04-01-09, 07:54 AM   #4
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Wow. So is this an argument for us all to have bullhorns or something? Everybody who has "had their life saved" by a styrofoam hat thinks we should all wear one, just wondering if you are putting the same angle on this anecdote?
You can interpret it in any way you want.
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Old 04-01-09, 08:00 AM   #5
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The real message is that you should always, always run the reds.
Hanging back with the cars is asking for trouble.
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Old 04-01-09, 08:15 AM   #6
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The real message is that you should always, always run the reds.
Hanging back with the cars is asking for trouble.
Well not always, but sometimes it's a smart thing to do.

One other message I forgot to convey is that you should get high when making bike setup decisions because I was high when I decided to make the conversion.

All I'm trying to say in this post is that brake control with bullhorns on my setup is way SAFER then with drops IMO and that it made a difference.

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Old 04-01-09, 08:55 AM   #7
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Depends on how you ride in traffic. I ride through town with two fingers on each brake handle, always gotta watch for those 2 ton metal meat wagons.
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Old 04-01-09, 09:15 AM   #8
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Well I agree that brakes on drops do not offer the best leverage for good quick braking... unless you happen to be in tuck position. But if you are riding on the hoods... your hands just don't squeeze that well like that.

For commuting in traffic, I prefer flat bars... for the increased visibility that a heads up position gives me, AND for the leverage I get on my brake handles... should I need to apply those babies in a hurry.

For longer rides, I still prefer drop bars for comfort. (I also like DT shifters... how's that for an anomoly)

But I see the points that the OP is making, with regard to strong braking and different handle bar positions. Remember Campy used to say that brakes on bikes were just for slowing and who needed them anyway. (greatly paraphrased)
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Old 04-01-09, 09:19 AM   #9
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Emergency countersteering to turn with the car is usually more effective collision avoidance than using the brakes.
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Old 04-01-09, 09:24 AM   #10
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Depends on how you ride in traffic. I ride through town with two fingers on each brake handle, always gotta watch for those 2 ton metal meat wagons.
That is true..

It also depends on weather you have the right drops. Im my case the bars were the ones that came with my bike and had a really wide curve, so it would take an extra time to go forward and reach just under the brakes in order to have the same leverage. The leverage that I had while my hands were on top of the brake hoods was very weak in comparison to bullhorns. The newer brake systems and the viriety of drop bars that are available today are much more efficient, so the bottom line is that you can choose your own cup of tea and having a good brake control is important if you intend on using them.
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Old 04-01-09, 09:53 AM   #11
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Emergency countersteering to turn with the car is usually more effective collision avoidance than using the brakes.

Yes but only if you are moving at a more manageable maneuvering speed and there was no sidewalk curb on your right including the shape of the road and the speed at which the car is turning.

None of those were very favorable in the situation that I was in.

I think I should have been more attentive as I ussually am in that kind of situation where I was going a bit too fast or too close to the car that turned even though the person did not use the blinker and should have been paying attention to me being behind the car moving to the right into the bike lane with my half watt bulb I had blinking at the time.

This also brings me to the point that there is a lot of risk involved when you are maintaining the cars speed or passing the car on the right when there are roads on the way that drivers may turn into.

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Old 04-01-09, 10:03 AM   #12
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About a moThe light turned green and I accelerated just enough to match the speed of the car in front of me. As soon as I got into the bike lane at the end of the turn, I started accelerating even more.

At that point the car in front of me just decided to make the right turn without blinkers on while I was about 7 ft. behind it in the bike lane. I was moving pretty fast at that point and when I realised the coplexity of my situation,
Why are you off to the far right when you are matched speed with traffic? Actually you are effectively traveling faster if you consider the possible turns that you are not taking - in which case if you are on the left tire track you can pass vehicles easier when they turn right.
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Old 04-01-09, 10:24 AM   #13
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Why are you off to the far right when you are matched speed with traffic? Actually you are effectively traveling faster if you consider the possible turns that you are not taking - in which case if you are on the left tire track you can pass vehicles easier when they turn right.

Well, there was a bike lane, which gave me some sense of security and I turned right into it at the begenning of the road. I think I whould have dealt with this situation a lot differently if there was no bike lane.

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Old 04-01-09, 10:31 AM   #14
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...

I think I should have been more attentive as I ussually am in that kind of situation where I was going a bit too fast or too close to the car that turned even though the person did not use the blinker and should have been paying attention to me being behind the car moving to the right into the bike lane with my half watt bulb I had blinking at the time.

This also brings me to the point that there is a lot of risk involved when you are maintaining the cars speed or passing the car on the right when there are roads on the way that drivers may turn into.

Correct, from your original post, it sounds like your "normal" mode-of-riding is the lawless, stoplight-running style of riding. Since you were actually following the rules of the road in this case, I'm guessing you weren't prepared for the possibility that the guy ahead of you intended to make that right turn into a driveway. This is evidenced by you going hard at the end of the turn and almost passing the guy on the right. The driver's action is actually quite common and if you normally follow the rules of the road, you would know to look out for that. My advice to you (as if you were asking), is to practice following the rules of the road. I know you probably have mad skilz from learning how to run lights "safely", but you'll learn a bunch more by doing things the "legal" way.

FWIW, I wish I had the skilz to run lights in heavy traffic the way messengers do, but I have a wife and a 10 month old. So I try to ride as conservatively as possible and take my time. I can't afford to be taking unnecessary risks.

Peace,
D
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Old 04-01-09, 10:35 AM   #15
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So after furhter thinking, I am arriving at realization that the title should have been, "good brake leverage saved me from my stupidity".
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Old 04-01-09, 11:25 AM   #16
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So after furhter thinking, I am arriving at realization that the title should have been, "good brake leverage saved me from my stupidity".
Haha,I wouldnt go that far, but for you yourself, bullhorns might have saved you the impact, but my drops are set canted a little higher simply because I commute most of the time and like the comfortable position. I get enough grip of the brakes and easy shifting with my setup too. All depends on who you are and how you ride, no right or wrong answer
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Old 04-01-09, 11:33 AM   #17
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Correct, from your original post, it sounds like your "normal" mode-of-riding is the lawless, stoplight-running style of riding. Since you were actually following the rules of the road in this case, I'm guessing you weren't prepared for the possibility that the guy ahead of you intended to make that right turn into a driveway. This is evidenced by you going hard at the end of the turn and almost passing the guy on the right. The driver's action is actually quite common and if you normally follow the rules of the road, you would know to look out for that. My advice to you (as if you were asking), is to practice following the rules of the road. I know you probably have mad skilz from learning how to run lights "safely", but you'll learn a bunch more by doing things the "legal" way.

FWIW, I wish I had the skilz to run lights in heavy traffic the way messengers do, but I have a wife and a 10 month old. So I try to ride as conservatively as possible and take my time. I can't afford to be taking unnecessary risks.

Peace,
D
You are right on the money about my style of riding. I usually brake the law as far as running reds, stops, splitting lanes, but it's been very smooth so far. There are some times when I don't do that and it really depends on each situation. I've been very succesfull as of lately at running reds except some honks and engry words, but I can live with that. Safety for others is more important to me then my own if I am the one braking the law, so I make surre that I do it right.

But the legality has very little to do with what happened. I wasn't almost about to pass this person. I was about 7 feet away when this person started slowing down while turning and for some time he/she was even further away just to almost stop and turn into the shopping plaza at 3 mph. I understand that anyone could just do this, even the best drivers. It was up to me to had been a little more aware and not focused as much on my acceleration if there are places to turn, even though there was a bike lane available.

Basically, whatever you do on the road, make surre you use your common sense and be more aware of everything around you. This time I partially failed my common sense because I felt too safe being in the bike lane and all.

But yea, thanks for the advice. Riding legally requires skills too and I'll make surre to up them if I ever have to stop at the red light again (which probably will happen).

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Old 04-01-09, 11:50 AM   #18
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Remember Campy used to say that brakes on bikes were just for slowing and who needed them anyway. (greatly paraphrased)
I thought the quote (more or less) belongs to Ettore Bugatti who when asked about the poor brakes of his automobiles supposedly said "My cars are for going, not stopping."

OT Sidenote: one of my best daytime bike trips was from the train station at Mülheim, Germany to the French National Automobile Museum in Mulhouse France, the home of several hundred Buggati's including two of the seven existing Type 41 Royale's. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cit%C3%...l%27Automobile
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Old 04-01-09, 11:56 AM   #19
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Emergency countersteering to turn with the car is usually more effective collision avoidance than using the brakes.
Yes true. But the absolute most important thing to do is always assume that any car in that position is going to turn right in front of you. Even if you're on a "bike lane", you absolutely have to be your own defense when it comes to passing on the right. This sort of situation is entirely predictable to anyone who's ridden in traffic for any length of time and can easily be anticipated and collissions avoided. It's your own responsibility even though the driver might be technically in the wrong.

Just so I don't come across as too preachy, this was learned early in my traffic cycling life when I actually hit someone in a situation just like this. Luckily I (a) had slowed completely in my panic braking and (b) did indeed instinctively steer in the same direction as the car was turning so the collision was very soft and didn't damage either my bike or the car. If it ever happens again - regardless of who is technically at fault, I will consider it my own error.

[edit] - I see this was all covered in the thread (I didn't read it all before replying). I also see OP understands this and is a reasonably aware and experienced traffic rider. But shte happens, be careful out there! I was interested in hearing his comments about braking though and it sounds real.

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Old 04-01-09, 12:42 PM   #20
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Once I had my whole life flash before my eyes. I fell asleep about halfway through!

Glad you are OK! Perhaps you should ride on the road the way you would if the bike lane wasn't there. Then instead of feeling safe, you would actually BE safer!
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Old 04-01-09, 12:43 PM   #21
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[edit] - I see this was all covered in the thread (I didn't read it all before replying). I also see OP understands this and is a reasonably aware and experienced traffic rider. But shte happens, be careful out there! I was interested in hearing his comments about braking though and it sounds real.
Thanks for the kind words...

About the emergency turning with the car:

Actually I did turn to the right during my stoping experience to end up just a few inches away from the curb. That was all the turning I was allowed to do because the car made a 60 degree turn and if I hadn't turned just that little bit, I brobably would have ran into that car. It was that close.
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