enoli7 - where do you live in Houston and where are you riding to? (just tell me the general area or nearest major intersection!) Houston has a lot of routing options, maybe there is a non-obvious alternate that would be less worrisome?
I think using lights, and going fast is your best bet. The real risk is being jacked for your bike.
Shipwreck, great point about varying the route. Makes for better riding then anyways!
Re. tyres: Marathon Supremes have excellent anti-flat protection and speed, and maybe you could anti puncture gunk.
...In Westerns, the bad guy says "Draw, podnuh!"
..In real life, a bike mugger hits you, without warning, with a piece of pipe. Or maybe grabs you at a stop - in which case he'll stand a better chance of getting your *** than you will if you're a woman. You'd be better with a knife, I suppose - but still not exactly "good". Because you'll either be trying to wrestle while on your bike, or having already been grabbed.
The big thing to understand about real criminals is that they don't give warnings. Which makes "a tool to protect yourself in the event of a crime about to happen" not much use. Especially on a bike, where if you do get warning you have to choose between readying a weapon and riding.
Practice using your gears. You want to be able to switch down to a lower gear which will make it easier to peddle away from trouble should you have to slow down, change direction or bunny hop a kerb. I have to cycle through a rough area of town on nights and instinctively switch one click to a lower (easier), gear if I'm close to folk that might cause trouble and I can't just buzz around them at speed. I'm also up and out my saddle and always ready for a burst of speed.
Learn escape routes, (alternative roads, paths), and where nearby safe havens are, Police and gas stations etc.
Don't engage with anyone. If you get yelled at or folk throw things at you just keep moving. Most people can't be bothered chasing after a cyclist.
Some nights there are areas that just ain't worth going through. Find an alternative route/transport.
Normally I'd advocate high vis clothing, but in a dodgy neighbourhood ninja clothes are ok. I do tend to have a strong helmet light as I've gotten out of trouble by dazzling folk who came after me.
Keep moving, look like your on a mission and did I mention keep moving?
Last edited by Jonahhobbes; 08-21-14 at 12:27 PM.
Here's a funny tip I got from a pot dealer with his ghetto ride as we were both on a train one evening. He asked about my Kojaks, and if I worried about getting flats. I told him their okay for commuting, but not particularly puncture resistant and said I try to stay away from bad roads.
So he told me he bulletproofs his tires by shoving a second tire within a tire, cutting the wire from the inside slick. Ghetto, but for him it works and at no cost. He's not so worried about weight or drag of the tires, but he won't let anything stop him from getting busted or worse being ripped off and killed. He said even if the tubes pop inside, the stiffness of the tires allows him to keep riding.
He also told me his preference is single speed is best for him, nothing to wrong gear, jam or chain slip in critical times, but depends on what bike he happened to have stolen at the time!
To this day, I'm still wondering why he shared that bit of those commuting tips to me, but I have since kept an eye out to avoid the same train with leery riders...
Blonde,fair skin,rides a bike......You need personal protection....I've always wanted to go to Houston...
Like others have said,ride fast,don't stop if it looks iffy,change directions if it looks REAL iffy,change your route up so your not predictable.
Most people in any city are just regular folks,it's the tiny minority you see all over the news.If you believe the news,it's still the wild west here in L.A.....Get outa town by sundown pardner.....
Yall wanna buy a watch?...I knows you ain't got no watch.....If you did,you'd knows it's nighttime and nighttime ain't no time to be in this ahere part of town...Wanna buy a watch?...
Last edited by Booger1; 08-21-14 at 03:43 PM.
Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein
I have been messed with riding through some sketchy, but nor horrible, parts of Chicago. I am just constantly scanning ahead of me and being aware of darker places or groups of people. But prepared to fight if needed, I'll run first, or try to, but if it came down to it I am going to make someone hate their life first before they'd get the upper hand.
Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....
Glock 26 loaded hot by Underwood placed in female specific holsters.
Michelin Pro 4...less expensive than Schwalbes. Anyways, I do a fair bit of country riding - once I start hearing banjos (or, a sense a dog is trying to chase me while their owner laughs)...pedal faster! Haven't ridden through the bad part of my city yet, as I haven't needed to.
Best bet is to try and blend in, not carry anything of value, and maybe even make some friends. A girl I work with makes it a point to say hello to everyone if she is walking around a sketchy area. The people who might be bad apples know she sees them, and the others are at least friendly to her and might intervene if they witnessed something.
As mentioned earlier, bikes travel faster than anyone on foot and go places cars can't get to. If push really comes to shove, you can throw your bike at someone...or your helmet...or if you carry a pump you can use that as well. Also, carrying a small canister of mace is easy enough on a bike and can get you out of a jam a lot easier than a firearm will (which could be hard to do on a bike anyway, and could be taken from you).
"All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."
I mean, if the tire were off and it were just the rim them maybe, but with a flat tire I've found the the tire makes everything all squirrelly and can even get jumbled up in something and so I doubt you'd make it 500 feet with a flat tire on a bike before it either makes you crash or the bike just won't go any more.
Weapons: hands first. Your body is the only weapon. Take Aikido, take Pentjak Silat, take Judo, take Jiu Jutsu, take Muay Thai, take something. Take both a grappling soft art and a striking hard art. Study in the context of self-defense, not sport fighting.
I can understand weapons. I've recently learned that most people don't see both time and space in movement: I see a moving object as its entire path, and its position related to time along a limited segment of that path in space. In other words: I can intersect the path of anything I can see moving with anything else I have sufficient physical control over. Weapons can deal more force and provide more protection than my body, and a simple, short, wooden stick can protect me from knives and pipe wrenches. This I understand.
You must understand: if you try to pull out a ***, and I'm 2 feet away from you, I'll grab your wrist when you reach for your holster, and then take your ***. This goes for mace, a knife, a baton hidden up your ass, or anything else. Don't rely on weapons in that way.
By the same token, if you can grapple with me for about 3 seconds before you inevitably lose, you can probably unholster your firearm and shoot me in the face. Probably. Maybe not.
Your body is your only protection. It will take a beating, and it can deal one out pretty hard. If you bring weapons, you will need to shield them when brought into play, or else you will lose them; your body must be ready to use weapons, or they are only dangerous to yourself. The only possible exception is a small, concealable air horn, which does no useful damage, but at least alerts the whole neighborhood and thus can't be used against you.
It also pisses people off, and they rain fury upon your head.
Also, don't look terrified. Don't be terrified. Your body does involuntary things with fear; you can't conceal it. You will be beaten, you will be bruised, you will be battered and you will be broken. These things heal; do not fear them. If someone brings them to you, force them back, and do not stop until you die; when they realize what they have started, terror will fill them. The most horrific thing for an assailant is the realization that you have no fear of them, even when they're winning. They know death is coming the moment they flinch.
People attack you because they're weak, frightened cowards. It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak.
Own: 2010 GT Tachyon 3.0
Own: 2013 Trek Domane 2.0 + Revolution REV22 wheels
Own: 2010 GT Tachyon 3.0
Own: 2013 Trek Domane 2.0 + Revolution REV22 wheels
One other resource which might be helpful is crime mapping: just Google crime map and your location. For many locations (including Houston), you can get a map with a listing of incidents. While I'm sure that there's a lot of unreported incidents, it's enough to get a sense of where the particularly sketchy pockets are so that they can be avoided.
That said, the scariest incident I've had as a car-free female involved a white guy, in a high income part of a high income city...
"There are no fast bikes - only fast people." - Some smart person
I lived and cycle commuted in a rough area at your age as well...I think it's hard to underestimate the difference gender makes. You are without a doubt a target much more so than any male here. I've gotten a lot of race/class harassment as well in rougher areas (more so now than back then). As others said...try to keep moving, if something feels wrong, it probably is. Avoid riding after hours. You can't blend in, but you can act like you belong there. Confidence tempered with caution. No one gave me much grief in those areas when I lived there, but they do now that I don't. People can smell who doesn't belong, and age makes a difference. I'd avoid wearing any jewelry or watches.
I'd consider a noticeable helmet camera.
Last edited by Altair 4; 09-03-14 at 11:58 AM.
My contour does save/transmit video to my iphone. I would guess others have similar features, including, possibly, the cloud. Nothing is 100%, it's risk mitigation. The person now has to break your camera and storage device...it's another step and potential discouragement. Is it 100% nope.
Please don't tell me what I should or shouldn't have, or make assumptions about my respect. You don't know how I feel about any socio-economic issues and I'm not interested in discussing those things with you. I lived in those areas when i was younger. I know what it's like, both as a resident and as a visitor. I still bike through those areas. The vast majority of people are just looking to get home and feed themselves/their families. That said, our economic reality has led to a lot of disenfranchised, pissed off people with little to lose. A woman is more likely to be a target. There are ways to reduce risk...and the risk is real. If you chose to believe otherwise for you and your family...have at it.