Advocacy & Safety - Going full VC (I screwed up one too many times)
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I ride VC 95% of the time, but there is a .5 miles strech near my home that is 40mph, 4 lane and always packed. I ride down it at 6:30 am with no problems, but when work is getting out at 4:30 pm, it's nasty. In the past I have alternated riding in the street (and being honked/yelled at) and cutting through parking lots and sidewalks to get home. One problem with this is that the sidewalk crosses a creek and the bridge is so narrow I cannot pass 1 pedestrian, much less many. Further, part is downhill, and has a few blind intersections. Many times I have nearly been hit because I was on the sidewalk. Yesterday, it was a driver turning right as I attempted to use a crosswalk. After slamming on the brakes, I shook my head clipped back in and tried to cross. Unfortunatly, the light had turned (very short yellow) and I was nearly hit crossing the street. I'm fed up, and need to deal with my fear; from now on I'm riding in the street, and taking a lane if I must.
As a side note, the rest of my ride is awesome. Cars almost always give me way more clearance than I need, and I don't hinder them unless there is an occupied parked car. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.
Sidewalks are dangerous
I'm going to suck it up and deal with my fear of the 40mph road (and the drivers on it).
09-09-05, 12:48 PM
In PA we are allowed to use sidewalks other than in business districts, so at a few locations I stay on the sidewalk. Two are on very busy bridges. One is short but has VERY wide sidewalks, the other is narrow and long (about 1/2 mile) and I have only encountered one pedestrian on that bridge.
The one other time I decided to bypass a short congested block by riding on the sidewalk, I ended up taking a minor spill once, and almost went down a second time because the hedges on that block weren't trimmed, and impeded my progress (The first one I misjudged and caught my handlebar, the second I had to step off to avoid the same type of issue).
So, I am now very cautious about making the decision to ride on a sidewalk, and very careful when I do. I wonder if I would be better off turning full VC...
09-09-05, 12:49 PM
Do you know an experience VC cyclist you can ride with one your commute a time or two?
I have a generally pleasant commute here in San Jose but with two 40mph six-lane sections, one where I have to filter across the three lanes in my direction to make a left turn. It took a while to adjust to the traffic after starting cyclocommuting ~2 years ago but I feel much safer and have fewer incidents the more assertively I ride.
09-09-05, 02:25 PM
Yep I've picked up a lot of VC skills by riding with VC cyclists. The two big clubs here are VC riders, and going on just putt-putt rides with them were well worth it for the VC training.
Judging by the general temor of the posts on this site, US drivers seem to include a higher proportion of ignoramuses than in the UK.
However, until I retired a month ago, I regularly commuted on a 4-lane dual carriageway with an upper speed limit of 70 (commuting speed usually about 40/50)and still managed to turn right (same as your left turn in priniciple) across my homeward bound lanes at a roundabout (traffic circle to you). Assertive positioning and clear indication of my intentions always led to drivers allowing me across their lanes.
I don't want to pre-judge a traffic environment I haven't seen, but I suspect that experienced VC riders would probably find this stretch less daunting than it might seem to you, so try it. Especially if you can find someone to share the ride with.
Of course, if US driving standards are really that much worse than ours, I will send flowers with profuse and grovelling apologies to your family
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