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  1. #1
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    My recent conversion to wussydom

    My commute is about 5 miles. It consists of 5 stoplight and one roundabout intersections, along a mile long stretch of 2 lane, 45 mph road, and the rest consisting of 4 lane 45 mph road.

    I hate this commute. In the two years of commuting on this stretch, I was hit once due, in part, to a quick lapse in attention from me and a poorly designed (for bicycles, at least) intersection. I had close calls daily and at least once a week someone would try and "educate" me about where I should be riding.

    Last summer, a full length side path (no more than a glorified sidwalk) was installed. While it doesn't run down both sides of the road and I hate doing the wrong way sidewalk thing, I've taken to using it exclusively. What follows is my reasoning.

    Sharing a lane with a driver doing 45 mph ( yeah right, not on a 45 mph road.) necessitates the assumption that the driver is paying attention. Very little options exist when confronted from behind by an inattentive driver. And, as we're all so aware of, inattentive drivers are not in the minority. The options include swerving into a ditch in some places, or swerving into a high, straight curb in most places. My safety, in essence, is in another person's hands.

    While sidewalk riding and especially wrong way sidewalk riding is statistically more dangerous than sharing the lane, I do it because the dangers posed relate to my direct actions. That is, how I operate my bicycle will directly result in me avoiding or not avoiding an accident. If I'm aware of where the danger lies, I can adjust my riding accordingly and come out fine. My safety is directly in my hands.

    While it's still possible to encounter an inattentive motorist while on the side path, it's much less likely that someone will not notice the curb, the ten feet of grass, and the fact that the road is no longer under them then they will not notice that they've drifted into another lane or look down without seeing me.

    The side paths may be more inconvenient for me but it's a small price to pay to have my safety in my own hands.

  2. #2
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Of course the "serious" cyclists will now come along and tell you how dangerous that sidepath is because you cannot ride it at 20MPH.

  3. #3
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Wuss.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  4. #4
    Senior Member Captain Blight's Avatar
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    Are there no side streets? Jeepers, probably not. One more tragedy of suburbia.
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  5. #5
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    the fear from the rear is overblown, but riding fast roads with closing traffic approaching quickly from behind on busy, single lane each direction roadways can rankle even the most steely headed vehikularist.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 02-15-11 at 09:36 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    I had a lot of experience with sidepaths while in college, where one was installed alongside the route I took to school. I became so frustrated with the unpredictable behavior of motorists at driveways and intersections that I gave up on it and switched to alternate routes and roadway-only cycling. The main problem was drivers turning right (especially when cycling contra flow). It's impossible to be sure that they see you and will yield to you (sometimes they stop, you think they will let you go, then they floor it), and it's frustrating stopping every time when assuming that they won't yield. YMMV based on the intersection frequency.

    I ultimately preferred riding a longer, less convenient route on lower traffic roadways than riding the sidepath.

    Today, part of my morning commute is on a 45 mph arterial where I control the lane for over a mile. I've had no problems doing this. But after work I often take a longer route home that's more enjoyable and has little traffic.

  7. #7
    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    I hate riding on sidewalks. I've nearly crashed more than once trying to navigate the maze of roots, telephone poles (yes, they put them smack in the middle), cars, trash cans, and ramps/dropoffs on the sidewalks here. I'd rather ride through busted glass on the shoulder.

    But hopefully your route isn't as bad as the ones here.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    I end up in a similar scenario sometimes here. Watch the drives and intersections like a hawk.

  9. #9
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    Wuss.


    Quote Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
    My commute is about 5 miles. It consists of 5 stoplight and one roundabout intersections, along a mile long stretch of 2 lane, 45 mph road, and the rest consisting of 4 lane 45 mph road.

    I hate this commute. In the two years of commuting on this stretch, I was hit once due, in part, to a quick lapse in attention from me and a poorly designed (for bicycles, at least) intersection. I had close calls daily and at least once a week someone would try and "educate" me about where I should be riding.

    Last summer, a full length side path (no more than a glorified sidwalk) was installed. While it doesn't run down both sides of the road and I hate doing the wrong way sidewalk thing, I've taken to using it exclusively. What follows is my reasoning.

    Sharing a lane with a driver doing 45 mph ( yeah right, not on a 45 mph road.) necessitates the assumption that the driver is paying attention. Very little options exist when confronted from behind by an inattentive driver. And, as we're all so aware of, inattentive drivers are not in the minority. The options include swerving into a ditch in some places, or swerving into a high, straight curb in most places. My safety, in essence, is in another person's hands.

    While sidewalk riding and especially wrong way sidewalk riding is statistically more dangerous than sharing the lane, I do it because the dangers posed relate to my direct actions. That is, how I operate my bicycle will directly result in me avoiding or not avoiding an accident. If I'm aware of where the danger lies, I can adjust my riding accordingly and come out fine. My safety is directly in my hands.

    While it's still possible to encounter an inattentive motorist while on the side path, it's much less likely that someone will not notice the curb, the ten feet of grass, and the fact that the road is no longer under them then they will not notice that they've drifted into another lane or look down without seeing me.

    The side paths may be more inconvenient for me but it's a small price to pay to have my safety in my own hands.
    Good luck. (That is sincere) Just be careful out there and remember that cycling on an absolute scale is likely pretty safe. Oh ... have fun when possible.

  10. #10
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    I almost never ride on side paths. Even so, thatís exactly what I was doing when my only collision with a car as an adult occurred. My lesson: Don't think you can safely make it through the cross walk on a "don't walk" signal just because the cars are still stopped.
    Have Bike, Will Travel

  11. #11
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
    I almost never ride on side paths. Even so, that’s exactly what I was doing when my only collision with a car as an adult occurred. My lesson: Don't think you can safely make it through the cross walk on a "don't walk" signal just because the cars are still stopped.
    Gee, going by that anecdotal evidence, I would suppose staying off side paths would be safe... but I have had three collisions with motor vehicles while I was cycling in a vehicular manner... in every case I was visible and predictable, and in every case it was the motorists fault (motorists offered to pay in two collisions; was issued a ticket in a third collision). So my anecdotal evidence trumps your anecdotal evidence.

  12. #12
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    Did you notice my lesson genec? Hint: It wasn't don't ever ever ride on a side path because it guarantees a crash.
    Have Bike, Will Travel

  13. #13
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    Wuss.
    I just said it cuz someone had to.

    Anyway... you're in Rochester Hills or thereabouts, right? Funny thing about the Detroit suburbs: Each neighborhood is precisely 1 mile by 1 mile square, bounded on the north and south by "Mile" Roads and on the east and west by named roads on a one-mile grid. The neighborhoods are not designed to flow into each other. I used to hate that when I lived there because if one of the major grid roads was blocked or running slow, the only thing you could do is jog over a full mile to the next parallel grid road. I wasn't riding back when I lived up there, but I can imagine it kind of sucks. In your situation I don't blame you for taking the side path.

    At one point I was working in Southgate and lived on Walton at I-75 in Auburn Hills. We had a snow storm that clogged the grid. As I drove north it got worse and worse so I kept jogging west to get around the traffic. By the time I got up to Walton I was about 8-10 miles west of home.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  14. #14
    Senior Member fishtoes2000's Avatar
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    Most Detroit suburbs are terrible for biking and you picked one of the worst. But, some of the inner ring suburbs aren't so bad as they were planned during the streetcar era. They have better street grids and walkable downtowns.

    I hope you share these unsafe road conditions with your city council. Perhaps you could suggest they pass a Complete Streets resolution for starters.
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  15. #15
    Fail Boat crewman
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    You are lucky in part. Here in Oregon you can be ticketed for riding on a sidewalk. They are serious about bikes being treated as cars. They want the pedwalks to be for pedestrians and the roads for non-pedestrians. We have a couple of multiuse paths but the pedestrians are about as dangerous on those as cars on the street. They like to walk 2 abreast and stop in the middle of the path or let their dog loose or have a really long chain.

    I consider you interested in your own well being and not a wuss. However, I also ride the shoulder of a 55 mph highway to get home. It's actually safer than the alternative.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Carley P.'s Avatar
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    Around 4 miles of my commute is on a 5-lane road that starts out as 45 mph and changes to 35. I ride in the right lane, around five feet from the white line. Everybody that passes me has to swerve pretty far, so the cars behind them should realize that there is an obstacle in the way.

    I ride in the lane for a few reasons.

    A. It's a whole lot easier for me.
    B. It's not illegal. (Riding on the sidewalks is illegal for anyone over the age of 12 in Louisville.)
    C. Motorists will see a cyclist on the road, and they won't be surprised to see them again.

    C is one of the most important. I see cyclists on fast roads all of the time, and they're always on the sidewalks. If all (or even half) of those cyclists would actually ride in the lane, motorists would be less surprised when they see cyclists on the road. It would stop motorist-to-cyclist harassment, subliminally force the motorist to look out for cyclists, and make things easier for every cyclist who will take that lane in the future.

    That being said, I'd rather you take the sidewalk to work than drive your car, so I'm not going to call you a wuss.

  17. #17
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I_like_cereal View Post
    You are lucky in part. Here in Oregon you can be ticketed for riding on a sidewalk. They are serious about bikes being treated as cars. They want the pedwalks to be for pedestrians and the roads for non-pedestrians.
    the only places it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk in Oregon are where it is prohibited by local ordinance. In Portland, that's a small area in the downtown core, everywhere else in the city it's completely legal to ride on the sidewalk.

    If Oregon was really serious about bikes being treated as cars, there wouldn't be any mandatory sidepath law (which there is).

  18. #18
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carley P. View Post
    Around 4 miles of my commute is on a 5-lane road that starts out as 45 mph and changes to 35. I ride in the right lane, around five feet from the white line. Everybody that passes me has to swerve pretty far, so the cars behind them should realize that there is an obstacle in the way.

    I ride in the lane for a few reasons.

    A. It's a whole lot easier for me.
    B. It's not illegal. (Riding on the sidewalks is illegal for anyone over the age of 12 in Louisville.)
    C. Motorists will see a cyclist on the road, and they won't be surprised to see them again.

    C is one of the most important. I see cyclists on fast roads all of the time, and they're always on the sidewalks. If all (or even half) of those cyclists would actually ride in the lane, motorists would be less surprised when they see cyclists on the road. It would stop motorist-to-cyclist harassment, subliminally force the motorist to look out for cyclists, and make things easier for every cyclist who will take that lane in the future.

    That being said, I'd rather you take the sidewalk to work than drive your car, so I'm not going to call you a wuss.
    Cyclists are an extreme rarity here, especially in the winter and I think it may actually be a hindrance to safety that the road is not heavily traveled. That means that while one car may be forced to move over for me, the next car will likely not see the move. I'd love to see more cyclists on the road (I'm from a great cycling town originally) but I don't want to take that lead if it means I'm going to get squished.

  19. #19
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    UA, I feelya on this; my 2-mile winter commute (direct route; warmer, less snowy conditions enable about a half-dozen others...)the past month includes what has been called by locals "the most dangerous half-mile in the city" -- and they have the memorial flowers curbside to verify. This part of the street is 4-lane, 40mph limit (LOL!), ancient concrete (which means chuckholes every 25 feet), and NO lights between my side street and the other main drag I have to use to get to work. For about a week or so, I wasn't buzzed, honked at, or bothered in the slightest. Since then, it's a daily, almost 2x/daily thing.

    There's an intermediate period of time, between the snow and decent temps, when I still kinda 'have to' take this route; but when the surface conditions are clear, I WILL TAKE THE SIDEWALK. It's legal here in residential areas. Clear conditions for the half-mile get deadly....

    Ghetto folks around here will, and HAVE, terrorize(d) cyclists with their cars; it's just a fact of life. Saw it, experienced it. (Once, I had a thug dry-fire his revolver at me six times, hollering "Hey, white boy!")

    Hate it or not, you do what you gotta; the fact that you're pedaling should make up for it.

  20. #20
    Senior Member bikecrate's Avatar
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    I'm not too proud to use a sidewalk, alternative path or even go against the flow of traffic on occasion. It’s not my standard practice or preference, but sometimes you have to weigh the options and pick the least risky.

  21. #21
    Senior Member fishtoes2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
    Cyclists are an extreme rarity here, especially in the winter and I think it may actually be a hindrance to safety that the road is not heavily traveled.
    I joke that in northern Oakland County, you see more bikes on cars rather than riders on bikes.
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  22. #22
    Babygirl bike fakenger cellery's Avatar
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    Over a long enough time-span the life expectancy for everyone drops to zero. Sure, cars pass too close, slam their brakes at the last second, honk and throw objects at us when we're in the lane. I understand the terror of all that and how easy it could be to come to the conclusion that some roads are just too unsafe to not use the sidewalk. I've had that thought lots of times, but I know it's also an extremely rare occurrence to get hit from behind. You have more chance of getting into a fatal car wreck.

    The only time I ever got hit was when a car turned out from a side street into me. That reinforced in my head that the real risk is from the front. I think you know the risk of those types of accidents are greatly multiplied when riding on the sidewalk, but hey, best of luck to you.
    I like food.

  23. #23
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    I will give you a 50\50. The Michigan Vehicle Codehttp://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(meo...e=mcl-257-660a says the same thing as Maryland...to FRAP. But getting buzzed by an errant motorist on a 45mph road is not fun. While I 'take the lane', on the 40mph roads out here, I still get buzzed by motorists who think they don't need to change lanes to pass me.

  24. #24
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyStickman View Post
    I hate riding on sidewalks. I've nearly crashed more than once trying to navigate the maze of roots, telephone poles (yes, they put them smack in the middle), cars, trash cans, and ramps/dropoffs on the sidewalks here. I'd rather ride through busted glass on the shoulder.

    But hopefully your route isn't as bad as the ones here.
    Your mention of telephone poles caught my eye as I was browsing through the comments in the thread. It reminded me of an accident I had several years ago. The road was 45mph, so I was riding on the sidewalk. As I was riding, I crashed into the leftover concrete stump, where the traffic pole was previously positioned. The crew that moved the pole, had not put a caution cone on top of it to alert anyone that it was still there. I had to walk a mile back to the bike shop to get my bike fixed.

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