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  1. #1
    Newbie enoli7's Avatar
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    Tips to keep safe when riding through sketchy neighborhoods?

    It looks like I won't have a car for a while. Problem is, I live in a very dangerous part of town. I'm a young 20s female and kinda stand out based on my ethnicity (please don't take this as a racist remark, but I'm blonde and glow-in-the-dark white. The majority of people who live around me are black or Latino).


    What are some tips to keep safe? I'm terrified of getting a flat in one of these neighborhoods. Prevention strategies?
    Also, personal defense ideas? Just in case...

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    My rule in bad areas is ride fast, keep your head down, mind your own business.

    Being male, I don't have some (one) of the specific concerns of females, but staying disengaged is a good thing. OTOH even very bad areas often aren't nearly as bad as they might seem. For example, if you breakdown on the road, there's an excellent chance that the first person who stops to help is black or Hispanic, even when they're in the minority of the local drivers.

    However, the best thing people can do is ride in groups vs. riding solo. I don't know if that's practical in your case, but if there are enough cyclists, hesitate or slow down until some catch up with you and ask if they're ride in a convoy with you.

    Lastly, if in doubt about the area, the logical course it to ride around rather than through it. If that's no an option, consider using a tire sealant hoping to reduce the odds of flatting in the wrong place. That and learn to fix flats fast.
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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  3. #3
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    Move.

  4. #4
    Hi-Tech Redneck Johnny Mullet's Avatar
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    Just ride through without making eye contact and ignore all sounds. If you get a flat, ride home without stopping and buy a rim.
    Putting the fun between my legs.......
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  5. #5
    Senior Member badrad's Avatar
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    Invest in a set of flatproof tires. And as others have said - ride fast and stop for nothing!

    Airless Bicycle Tires

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by badrad View Post
    Invest in a set of flatproof tires. And as others have said - ride fast and stop for nothing!

    Airless Bicycle Tires
    The irony is that airless tires will slow her down overall

  7. #7
    Senior Member badrad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keyven View Post
    The irony is that airless tires will slow her down overall
    yeah, but not as much as a flat tire would. LOL!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by badrad View Post
    yeah, but not as much as a flat tire would. LOL!
    Yeah definitely, I was being purposely ironic. I'm aware it's more about being predictable rather than being faster overall.

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    You probably already know this, living where you do, but don'tever let self-consciousness about feeling that something's not quite right keep you from immediately changing course or doing whatever you need to do to feel more secure, no matter how un-PC or wimpy it might feel to you to do so. I change direction sometimes for practical reasons alone, meaning that I don't necessarily feel any fear, but why tangle with chance when it's just as easy to avoid it. Otherwise, don't let a heightened fear of stranger-danger interfere with your realistic gut sense of things. The vast majority of people want to mind their own business and are hoping everyone around them feels the same way, but there is occasionally that f**kwit who thrives on being able to spot that type of response-crippler in a person.

    I can act stupidly stubbornly resentful when I feel that too many a-holes are dictating my riding behavior, so I moderate that by using probability and what I've experienced (I'm not young) as common expectations of others to push it when I need to without being too reckless with my own safety. This mostly works very well, but I've had a few iffy but ultimately harmless live-and-learn experiences riding in my city.

  10. #10
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msd3075 View Post
    Move.
    This. Since you no.longer have a car, perhaps you can afford to move somewhere less sketchy?

    It won't be a black/latino thing which prompts an attack, it will be a poverty/addiction thing which will foment a crime against you. If you're dressed in work clothes, probably you'll more realistically be identified as just another schmoe trying to get by; gear up in tech roadie tights outfit and you may attract unwanted attention.

    In your situation, I'd go with flat protection tires, Continental or Schwalbe with top flat protection properties, damn the weight, and a tube with some kind of anti-flat goo installed.

    Ride like you live there, which you do, and regulars on the street will get used to you as a fixture in the community.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  11. #11
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    Get yourself a CHL and some protection, i.e. Glock, Ruger, Walther...

  12. #12
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keyven View Post
    Yeah definitely, I was being purposely ironic. I'm aware it's more about being predictable rather than being faster overall.
    Marathon Pluses, would be nearly as unlikely to flat (presuming normal pressure is maintained) and would slow you down less...

  13. #13
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    My rule in bad areas is ride fast...
    ^^THIS is Number 1 . Does not give neerdowells time to set up an ambush.

    2. If something up ahead looks suspicious, too many people milling in the street, make a U-Turn and find another street.

    3. Try to NOT look like a girl. Easier for some than others but you get my drift.

    4. Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. Spendy but bombproof. You will likely not get a flat. Inspect your tires at home once a week for glass, staples, wire, etc embedded in the tread and remove with a dental pick or other pointy thing. Otherwise the sharp bits may eventually work their way through to the tube.

    There is so much more to know but I think these four things (and some luck) will keep you out of trouble until your situation improves.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  14. #14
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    This. Since you no.longer have a car, perhaps you can afford to move somewhere less sketchy?

    It won't be a black/latino thing which prompts an attack, it will be a poverty/addiction thing which will foment a crime against you. If you're dressed in work clothes, probably you'll more realistically be identified as just another schmoe trying to get by; gear up in tech roadie tights outfit and you may attract unwanted attention.

    In your situation, I'd go with flat protection tires, Continental or Schwalbe with top flat protection properties, damn the weight, and a tube with some kind of anti-flat goo installed.

    Ride like you live there, which you do, and regulars on the street will get used to you as a fixture in the community.
    Bolding mine.

    This. Try to look poor enough to not be a score, but not so poor that you won't be missed or cared about it you get mugged.

    In my 20s I went to a lot of pretty bad areas. I had one or 2 huge advantages over you. I'm male and I am not small. I looked like a lot more trouble than I could possibly be worth.

    Do NOT go with head down. Do not look timid. Eyes up, see your surroundings. And if things do start to go bad remember a bike is faster than anyone on foot and can go where cars cannot.

    Since this is where you live also remember what you know. It is a rare area where there are not some relatively safe places. If you do have to bail do not panic, head for a safe refuge.

    Oh and every bad area I have ever been has been much safer at 6 in the morning that at midnight. Time of day matters. Do as much as possible in the safer times.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

  15. #15
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    I think familiarity and confidence (not arrogance) work well. My sister lived for years as the only (few maybe) white girls in a Latino barrio.

    She carries herself well, became a familiar face and that familiarity had others looking out for her also. She never had a problem.

  16. #16
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    Get to know your neighbors. Chances are there are a bunch of really great people in your neighborhood. Get to know them. Latino's in particular have very little regard for gang and other illegal activity and they'll likely keep you up to speed on anything you should be aware of and they'll jump to your rescue quickly if you need it.

    How far do you have to go through the rough part? What time of day?
    "Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt." - ATL Urbanist

  17. #17
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by enoli7 View Post
    It looks like I won't have a car for a while. Problem is, I live in a very dangerous part of town. I'm a young 20s female and kinda stand out based on my ethnicity (please don't take this as a racist remark, but I'm blonde and glow-in-the-dark white. The majority of people who live around me are black or Latino).


    What are some tips to keep safe? I'm terrified of getting a flat in one of these neighborhoods. Prevention strategies?
    Also, personal defense ideas? Just in case...
    Ok, Since you are a Caucasian female in her early 20's. I got a map of the various 'hot' spots in Houston.

    MYOB, That is easy. But it is also ignorant to your surroundings.

    Now, The suggestion of moving, may fiscally feasible. But it does nothing 'in the moment', until a move were to happen. Also, A move may not alleviate the necessity of going through the 'hot' spots. Until such time, that your car is fixed.

    Next, Self-defense classes is a good start. But not the complete answer. Like, You could carry mace. But on a windy day. It could get blown right back in your face. So, In that sense classes in martial arts.

    Next, Investing in flat-proof tires. But as was already pointed out, they would slow you down.

    Next, Riding on rims. That would slow you down even more, than flat-proof tires.

    Next, Ride as fast as you can. That is subjective to how fast you can ride in the first place.

    Next, A CCW license. Where are you going to carry a *** out-of-sight. If you don't have a shoulder holster.

    Last, Riding in a group versus riding solo. There may be other cyclists' with the same problem you have about the areas', and don't want to ride through the bad areas.

    I would go with martial arts training.

  18. #18
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    I rode through Riviera Beach in South Floridistan. Anybody who knows that area would probably liken it to a small scale Compton or something like that due to all the gang and criminal activity. The lil hoodchucks tried to beat me up once, and separate me from my bike a few times. I learned NEVER give hand signals, and when you hear "HEY, THATS MY BIKE", ride like your life depended on it, b'cuz it really might. I carried all kinds of weapons but the one thing that made me not have to try to use tools o' terror and gave me total anonymity to just get home with no hood fun was to ~ dress like a crazy homeless guy. Nondescript Single speed chunker or my wacko-work foldie that had a HUGE cat little box strapped to the back worked well. Urban camouflage. Yeah, not too flattering, but if you want to blend in, might be something to consider.

  19. #19
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=(8)=- View Post
    I rode through Riviera Beach in South Floridistan. Anybody who knows that area would probably liken it to a small scale Compton or something like that due to all the gang and criminal activity. The lil hoodchucks tried to beat me up once, and separate me from my bike a few times. I learned NEVER give hand signals, and when you hear "HEY, THATS MY BIKE", ride like your life depended on it, b'cuz it really might. I carried all kinds of weapons but the one thing that made me not have to try to use tools o' terror and gave me total anonymity to just get home with no hood fun was to ~ dress like a crazy homeless guy. Nondescript Single speed chunker or my wacko-work foldie that had a HUGE cat little box strapped to the back worked well. Urban camouflage. Yeah, not too flattering, but if you want to blend in, might be something to consider.
    But the OP is a young Caucasian woman in her early 20's. How is that going to help her?

  20. #20
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
    But the OP is a young Caucasian woman in her early 20's. How is that going to help her?
    Just because you couldn't, doesn't mean someone else wouldn't get something from that post.

    Hint: Not advertising you are a female would be desirable in some situations

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alleytom View Post
    Get yourself a CHL and some protection, i.e. Glock, Ruger, Walther...
    +1, this was my first thought as well. Learn how to use it also. It isn't a magic talisman that prevens a crime, it is a tool to protect youself in the event of a crime about to happen. All the flat proof tires in the world won't help if some scumbag decides you're his victim. Heck, I'm a male not in a high crime area and carry whenever legally possible, it's really no different than wearing your helmet whenever you ride or buckling up whenever in a car.

    My second advice would be: no lycra, no v necks, no skirts, no short shorts. Act like your overprotective father were dressing you. Sorry, the world is what it is and women have to consider these things at times unfortunately.

    Finally, get durable tires and slime filled innertubes. I bought a set of Continental eco contact tires recently looking for some wide tires for gravel roads. In 700x42 size they weigh almost 1kg each and have some seriosuly thick tread. May have to have a shop install them for you if you aren't very experienced as they were one of the harder sets of tires to put on that I have ever had.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alleytom View Post
    Get yourself a CHL and some protection, i.e. Glock, Ruger, Walther...
    Great idea. Another expensive thing to get stolen in an ambush. Works on TV, truly doth sucketh in real life.
    Pronounced "Murkle"

  23. #23
    Senior Member RoadTire's Avatar
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    I'm going to try to join this thread, not jack it. I'm in a less dangerous, but similar situation if I decide to commute to work. (Ok leave the gender confusion jokes at the door, I won't be wearing a dress on the commute. )

    Obvious rural white boy with crazy deer-in-the-headlight look when around inner-city folk. Being a small male, I'm concerned about my routes through downtown Mpls about 02:00 A.M. Almost all the ride is not sketchy, but one area is reported to have a lot of homeless folk alongside the trail, and it's dark. The other route is the avenues with lots of stoplights and I'm not a fan of standing around with no one about. Maybe I should ride with my tan colored hiking pants, and short sleeved button down shirts instead of the bike shorts and jersey in the mornings. I'll be wearing a backpack, road bike shoes, white helmet, and regular road bike.

    Going home at noon is not problem, the area is a clear and safe as any so I can dress how I want.
    Last edited by RoadTire; 08-09-14 at 11:01 AM.
    "Of course you eat too much" (Looigi) There are things people say that are so true you can never forget the wisdom. I still eat too much. Without denial.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member shipwreck's Avatar
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    You've gotten about as good advice as you can get on this thread, but everyone has missed one small thing, and that's predictability. If you ride the same street at the same time every day like clockwork then your presence can be anticipated. If its really hard to change your schedule then possibly keep things mixed up by having several different routes, even if its just a street or so over. Don't have a pattern to your routes either, like a Monday Wednesday Friday route and Tuesday Thursday route.

    On self defense, Kung Foo wont save you, but a womens specific self defense class would be a help, and faster to learn.
    Keep a cool head. its been mentioned to not be afraid to turn around or change direction based on the situation. Until its time to panic, don't.

  25. #25
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    i feel absolutely OK riding through "sketchy neighborhoods" but it really freaks me out when a white man enters a crowded movie theater.
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

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