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Old 04-08-10, 09:22 PM   #1
Cra1g
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Being Afraid of riding on the road?

So a friend and I like to do night rides frequently. For some reason, he's almost scared of going on public roads because "it's night out and people are crazy on the roads at night. I'm not risking it." So he sticks to the sidewalks.

I'm wondering, is it a bad thing to be scared to go on the roads? As a cyclist, I would think that it would be un-cyclist of him to not want to ride on the roads. I'm always trying to convince him to stay on the roads, but it always seems like he's being a "wuss."

Thoughts?
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Old 04-08-10, 10:01 PM   #2
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Ironically, riding on the sidewalks is much more dangerous. I'd just turn his own logic right back on him. "it's sidewalk and people aren't going to see you, pulling out of alleys and driveways. I'm not risking it."

And, I got news for him. People are crazy on the roads during the day, too!
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Old 04-08-10, 10:03 PM   #3
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Embrace the road, anytime and always.
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Old 04-08-10, 10:03 PM   #4
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As Greyryder said, its much more dangerous for all involved to ride on the sidewalk as people don't really pay attention.

On the road at least everything is traveling in a (somewhat) predictable manner and in one direction.
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Old 04-08-10, 10:05 PM   #5
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Do both of you have lights? If people see you they won't hit you. Lights and reflective gear helps them see you.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 04-08-10, 10:31 PM   #6
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Consider more daytime rides?

Or borrow his bike (hopefully well-lit), turn on the lights, and ride 100 yards away so he can see how visible you are. If you're not visible, buy more/better lights and repeat until he feels safer
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Old 04-09-10, 06:13 AM   #7
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I prefer to ride at night, since I have very good lighting. Unfortunately we're getting into summer where I'll be riding in the light all the time.

But I don't have the option of sidewalks even if I were foolish enough to ride on them; there aren't any sidewalks on my route except for about 1/2 mile during the 11 mile trip.
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Old 04-09-10, 10:53 AM   #8
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I have found, with my lights, that I get more respect from drivers at night than I do during the day. I think that whole blinky light thing throws drivers off since they don't know what's up in front of them. I always am given more room at night than during the day.
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Old 04-09-10, 11:13 AM   #9
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I enjoy night rides, particularly between 8 and 11 PM Sunday-Thursday in the summer. Friday evening commutes seem to have more than their share of loopy people in a hurry, and Saturday nights feature lots of bored teenagers. I would avoid cycling when the bars close at 1 or 2 AM.

Always use good front and rear lights, plus a good rear reflector. Don't ride on the sidewalks due to the higher risk of collisions that results.
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Old 04-09-10, 11:17 AM   #10
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11PM on a Sunday night. Best time to ride on city streets. No one is out.
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Old 04-09-10, 12:46 PM   #11
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I used to be afraid to ride at night on the road but after seeing my friends with reflective gear and lights and how visible they were put my mind to rest. I think with the proper gear one is actually more visible at night especially if it is really dark out, you tend to stick out like a sore thumb because you are the only illuminated thing out there, so motorist who are paying attention should see you easier. Those who do not pay attention are dangerous whether it is day or night.
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Old 04-09-10, 05:06 PM   #12
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Humans have a well-known problem with evaluating risk. It's easy (and completely correct) to say that riding on the road is safer, but I understand why many people "feel" safer on the sidewalk. Most people (including me) feel threatened by overtaking cars, but I know that cars entering intersections are much more dangerous. Riding at night can feel dangerous, even though it may be much safer when riding while well lit than it is riding during the day. Experience is a good teacher.
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Old 04-10-10, 04:00 PM   #13
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What if your city is known for not being a bike-friendly city at all? and that most drivers have no respect for cyclists. Would you still ride on the roads?

I mean, I understand there are trails sometimes, but in a situation like this, would the road still be a safer choice than a sidewalk?
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Old 04-12-10, 06:24 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by one_beatnik View Post
I have found, with my lights, that I get more respect from drivers at night than I do during the day. I think that whole blinky light thing throws drivers off since they don't know what's up in front of them. I always am given more room at night than during the day.
Throw in a Class II vest and they think you're a LEO. At least I'm guessing. Probably 50% + of the time I get close to a full lane of clearance at night with my vest on.
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Old 04-12-10, 07:31 AM   #15
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I suspect that a lot of the respect that I get is because I look like a cop, with the lights and the vest.
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Old 04-12-10, 07:57 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cra1g View Post
What if your city is known for not being a bike-friendly city at all? and that most drivers have no respect for cyclists. Would you still ride on the roads?

I mean, I understand there are trails sometimes, but in a situation like this, would the road still be a safer choice than a sidewalk?
I would still ride on the roadways. I might choose low traffic routes if the horn honks became annoying, but on any particular route, I would operate according to safe and efficient bicycle driving practices and not ride on the sidewalk.

Riding on the roadway, you might get the occasional honk or yell, and maybe an occasional pass that's closer than you'd prefer. But on the sidewalk you'll have lots of conflicts with drivers at intersections and driveways. I've tried both approaches, and have concluded that roadway cycling according to the rules of the road for drivers, including assertive use of the travel lane at intersections and narrow lanes, works best for me.
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Old 04-12-10, 05:50 PM   #17
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I usually stick to bike paths. I have yet to ride on the roads here (well the ones with out bike lanes anyway). It just seems that that drivers here could care less about bikes, and if its not them its the people carelessly and randomly opening there parked car doors. When I start riding on the street in the next week or so, I am going to take it slow and wear a helmet. Yeah I must sound like an old woman right now but yea...
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Old 04-12-10, 06:27 PM   #18
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It's good to have a little fear, otherwise we'd take too many obviously stupid risks.

When I bike commute, I actually prefer to ride home in the dark versus when the sun is still out because I'm riding west into the sunset. There are too many cars earlier and it's harder for them to see me due to the glare from the setting sun. In the dark the traffic is usually much less, and most people give me a wide berth.

On the other hand, if your buddy is totally uncomfortable riding on the road at night, then he shouldn't do it. But he should still exercise extreme caution on the sidewalk, especially if he is going in the opposite direction of traffic flow. Almost nobody turning right out of a side street ever stops before the sidewalk or even looks to their left where he would be riding.
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Old 04-12-10, 07:50 PM   #19
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It's a big plunge to move to the street. But, it really is safer.

That your friend is afraid of riding in the street is normal, but shouldn't be. It's a culture thing partially, assuming bikes belong on the sidewalk, and partially an evolution thing, our gut instinct tells us to get as far away from the big fast crushing things as possible. All you can do is explain the higher risks of riding on the sidewalk, and demonstrate by your actions that there is nothing wrong with riding in the street.

Also, +1 on explaining the right way to ride on the sidewalk if he insists on continuing that.
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Old 04-12-10, 08:04 PM   #20
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Often I'm out riding at 2am, or later. Boy, are the streets calm at that hour.
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Old 04-13-10, 12:46 AM   #21
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Drivers are crazy, but they're not crazy enough to want to scratch their paint jobs on their cars, so you should be fine.
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Old 04-13-10, 01:44 AM   #22
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Do both of you have lights? If people see you they won't hit you. Lights and reflective gear helps them see you.
Should note front and rear lights. I've had a few close calls with people who don't use front lights. Visibility in a panel van is bad enough without having to try to figure out if the bicycle with no front light I passed 1/4 mile back has caught up with me due to the stoplights.

I dunno everyone around here only uses rear lights.

The few front lights I've seen are always in blink mode which is amazingly annoying. And I don't mean that in a good way. You might be thinking "good that means you see me." But it's more of a I can't tell how far away and how fast it's moving type of annoying. I mean I can make a rough estimate but a lot harder to judge than that of a light that's always on like on a motorcycle or car.

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Old 04-13-10, 01:51 AM   #23
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Drivers are crazy, but they're not crazy enough to want to scratch their paint jobs on their cars, so you should be fine.
Depends on the vehicle. A dent from a bicyclist hitting the work truck wouldn't be detrimental...already been hit by one who rode square into my front wheel. Dunno what he was thinking.
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Old 04-13-10, 06:26 AM   #24
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I think many of these comments are worthless. No one knows this cyclist in question, nor anything about the alternate conditions of the routes the cyclist may use or not use on any given ride.

The broad generalities stated in this thread to make a point for or against road usage for a particular cyclist demonstrate poor judgment.

One can point out factors affecting safety for each general cycling situation, and then ask prospective cyclists to review these factors and assess their conclusions regarding their relative safety.

Making statements in these forums that you can't possibly prove does little to advocate your various positions.
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Old 04-14-10, 01:00 PM   #25
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Worth pointing out that it isn't un-cyclist of him to do anything. There's no such thing, just whatever is safest in the situation. There's also nothing you can say to change your friends mind. You can try to explain all the factors in play, such as cars coming out of driveway's and such. In the end, he's got to make his own decision.
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