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Old 05-25-07, 08:31 AM   #1
magilla
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What can I expect / What is biking etiquette?

Hi all,

Got my 63 cm Raleigh Technium off eBay.

I ride 16 miles each way to work, mostly on a bike path and in a park.

Have done it about 18 days with a POS MTB, and it takes me about an hour plus or minus.

So far, I have ridden without a helmet, lights, or safety gear.

I purchased a cyclo computer and LED rear flashers and headlight, and I have an orange reflector belt. I also got a cheapo 19.00 Schwinn black bikehelmet.

Anything else I need for safety?

Also, what do I need to know about bike etiquette?

Do you ride on the road or sidewalk? Which is safer?

If on the road, do you pass cars in line at a stop sign or light and go to the front, or do you pretend you are a motorcycle and wait in line? Which is more dangerous?

What are the biggest complaints from drivers, and what can I do to be a better biker? What are some no-nos?

Thanks!
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Old 05-25-07, 08:38 AM   #2
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Is your sidewalk designated a bike path? In some areas there is no riding allowed on the sidewalk.
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Old 05-25-07, 08:47 AM   #3
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Your safety gear sounds okay. You might want to also carry a small "ouch pouch" -- I just carry bandaids and some wet-naps. I also carry a couple of packets of gu in case I run low on fuel, and of course a tube, levers and air.

In almost all cases, I leave the sidewalk to the pedestrians -- it's not safe to mix.

Passing cars at a light is an "it depends" I like to get to the front so I can take off quickly and get moving so as to not slow them down, but...it depends on what's happening after the intersection. Other times I'll hang back. Which is more dangerous? Depends on the intersection, the traffic, etc. I go with the less dangerous.
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Old 05-25-07, 09:11 AM   #4
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Wear bright colors, ride according to traffic laws, on the road. Beware of filtering up along the traffic where there can be a right hook situation.


As to where you ride: Sidewalk riding is the most dangerous, to both you and the pedestrians. drivers won't expect to see you and pedestrians are slow moving "Meat pylons" that will almost invariably dodge in exactly the same direction you are trying to dodge them in! If there is a sidepath or Bike Path (as opposed to a sidewalk) you can conveniently and safely use, then by all means, use it if you want, but we have a protected legal right to ride on the road.

It's confusing, but you can visit the A&S forum to get more info on this as well as the Commuters forum for a less emotional approach to the same questions.

Above all, ride in a predictable manner and be prepared to dodge the Jack@ss motorists, because they will cross your path from time to time! Don't defend your right of way to the death!

EDIT: Ride WITH the traffic, not contraflow. You aren't a pedestrian, so riding against traffic is not cool and you risk getting hit by someone pulling out of a driveway because they didn't even think to look and see you, besides, as a rider, it's illegal to ride against the traffic.....you are a vehicle, human powered, but a vehicle nonetheless, unless you are in California, and then a bike is a device, but subject to the traffic laws all the same.
Quote:
Originally Posted by magilla
Hi all,

Got my 63 cm Raleigh Technium off eBay.

I ride 16 miles each way to work, mostly on a bike path and in a park.

Have done it about 18 days with a POS MTB, and it takes me about an hour plus or minus.

So far, I have ridden without a helmet, lights, or safety gear.

I purchased a cyclo computer and LED rear flashers and headlight, and I have an orange reflector belt. I also got a cheapo 19.00 Schwinn black bikehelmet.

Anything else I need for safety?

Also, what do I need to know about bike etiquette?

Do you ride on the road or sidewalk? Which is safer?

If on the road, do you pass cars in line at a stop sign or light and go to the front, or do you pretend you are a motorcycle and wait in line? Which is more dangerous?

What are the biggest complaints from drivers, and what can I do to be a better biker? What are some no-nos?

Thanks!
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Old 05-25-07, 09:12 AM   #5
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Also - better to be visible. Visible not only in color but in the line of sight, many beginner bikers hug the side until they have to swerve. Cars going by don't see them because they're out of sight...and SMACK! Better to take the lane when appropriate, have them go around you but they'll see you. The more you are weaving in and out of the line of sight the more dangerous it will be.
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Old 05-25-07, 09:15 AM   #6
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Bikes are considered vehicles in most areas, equivalent to a car, so you should be stopping at lights and stop signs. If you do ride on the sidewalk (sometimes it's hard to avoid it, if there are potholes, dangerous traffic, etc) walk your bike across the crosswalks, a lot of area have laws requiring it.
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Old 05-25-07, 09:38 AM   #7
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These are great questions and I'm glad you're asking them, but different people will have different answers and over time you will determine your own preferences. I can touch on only a few urban street riding concepts in this email, but here are a few things I think should be said.

I wear a helmet and am well lit at night.

I always ride on the road and more or less follow the rules applied to bicycles; keep right, stop at lights and stop signs etc. (Actually, just like in a car, I do a "rolling stop" at stop signs).

In many ways riding on the road is safer than the sidewalk...you don't collide with pedestrians, and you don't catch motorists by surprise when you enter the intersection from the sidewalk. You're less likely to be hit by a vehicle entering or exiting a driveway or alley. Ride in a straight line and maintain alertness; assume motorists don't see you.

I do filter past the right side of cars waiting at stop lights, but very cautiously, because sometimes passengers will decide to get out even though they are a few feet from the curb. Also very important if the light is about to change or if the vehicle I am overtaking is a big truck or bus, I hold back, because they might suddenly make an unannounced right turn. That "right hook", where the vehicle driving beside you on your left, turns right and crowds you off the road, is quite common. If the vehicle is a large bus or big truck, a right hook can be fatal, since their rear wheels can come up behind you and take you down. Don't mean to scare you off, just make you aware of one avoidable dangerous situation.

If you do have access to a separate bike path, that's great, but again remember that pedestrians are unpredictable, and also it can be very dangerous where the bike path crosses a road...do not assume drivers will be watching out for you!

Last edited by cooker; 05-25-07 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 05-25-07, 09:44 AM   #8
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One piece of bike etiquette I like to see: don't pass other cyclists waiting at a stoplight! I hate it when two or three of us are waiting and some turkey pedals up and parks at the front of the line.
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Old 05-25-07, 09:56 AM   #9
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After I cracked my helmet on a concrete curb, I feel a helmet is vital. I'd never ride w/o adequate emergency tools. Some time rides get delayed, take longer than planned. I'd carry some kind of emergency light and reflective bands, and a tail light. Just in case. Another thing happened to me when I unexpectantly found myself riding in the dark. I had a flat. It is difficult to change a flat in the dark. Unless you have a plan for someone to bail you out and come fetch you. That is treason to me. Bike indepence requires me to be prepared. Besides, Often my wife shows little sympathy if I get home too late. She does not understand how unexpected bike repairs/ poor planning can make one late.
Only once that time with the flat in the dark, did I end up hitching.
A sympathetic cyclist driving in his pick up rescued me. He could see me fumbling about under a very dim street lamp. Now I carry a fairly bright LED light that attaches to me helmet. Late night flats no longer scare me.
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Old 05-25-07, 11:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magilla
Hi all,

Got my 63 cm Raleigh Technium off eBay.

I ride 16 miles each way to work, mostly on a bike path and in a park.

Have done it about 18 days with a POS MTB, and it takes me about an hour plus or minus.

So far, I have ridden without a helmet, lights, or safety gear.

I purchased a cyclo computer and LED rear flashers and headlight, and I have an orange reflector belt. I also got a cheapo 19.00 Schwinn black bikehelmet.

Anything else I need for safety?

Also, what do I need to know about bike etiquette?

Do you ride on the road or sidewalk? Which is safer?

If on the road, do you pass cars in line at a stop sign or light and go to the front, or do you pretend you are a motorcycle and wait in line? Which is more dangerous?

What are the biggest complaints from drivers, and what can I do to be a better biker? What are some no-nos?

Thanks!

Three things to remember:

1) Be as visible as possible at all times, I often use my rear light in flash mode, even on a bright sunny day, and car drivers do notice. Some riders buy a construction safety vest, they come in 3 colours, orange, yellow and green, all are intended to draw the eye, a driver that sees you, is less likely to hit you.

2) Be as predictable as possible, that means stop at stop signs, stops do not have to be long, just make sure you do stop, I always touch a foot at 4 way stops when there is other traffic, so that it's not debatable where I fit in the sequence of vehicles. I always go a little further left at stop lights to stay in the line of traffic, the only exception, is if I am turning right. This prevents what is called the right hook.

3) Always have an escape route, ride at least 1yd or 1m from the curb, this way, you have somewhere to go, if a driver isn't paying attention (most are not, most of the time it seems).

Helmets are like automotive seatbelts, a PITA to use, but the day you need it, it's good to have it, modern designs are light weight, have lots of cooling vents, and are great for attaching additional lights and mirrors to. Remember that if you crash and your helmetted head touches the ground, replace the helmet, they are for one time use only.

Additional things to pick up, are a frame mounted pump, a spare tube, a patch kit, a set of tire levers, some kind of degreaser, and chain lube. If you have bolt on wheels, rather then quick release wheels, carry an adjustable wrench at all times. I suggest adding at least one water bottle cage, preferably two, and get a couple of bottles to fit the cages. When riding in warm weather, always carry water. A lot of riders get either an underseat or handle bar mounted bag, to carry tools in. If you learn a little bike maintenance, then you can some more stuff to your tool kit. Some riders add a mirror, this can either be bar, helmet or glasses mounted, if you don't wear glasses, a good pair of sunglasses, for daytime, safety glasses for night time, can keep bugs and dirt out of your eyes.
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Old 05-25-07, 03:55 PM   #11
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I also carry a spare set of batteries for my head and til lights. If you are planning to do much riding at night, make sure your tires have some flat protection. ( heavy duty thorn resistant tubes, liners, armadillos or all all of the above) You can't see broken glass or nails on the road in the dark.
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Old 05-25-07, 10:52 PM   #12
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I just have one last tidbit to add to the above (very good) advice. Check your local (i.e. municipal) traffic regulations about bikes. Here in Little Rock, all bikes that travel on the road are required to have headlights and taillights or at least rear reflectors. All bikes are also required to have a bell or horn (but not a siren ).

Generally if your town has implemented any cyclist-specific traffic regs, it's for safety, and it may well be what motorists expect of cyclists, and the more you can be part of what they expect to see on the road, the more you'll be treated like it. It's the unexpected that cause accidents, whether it's sudden stops, swerves, etc by other cars, or a barely identifiable cyclist at dusk, you get my meaning. Be safe by being a responsible traffic participant, not an outsider or outlaw.
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Old 05-26-07, 03:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magilla
Hi all,

Got my 63 cm Raleigh Technium off eBay.

I ride 16 miles each way to work, mostly on a bike path and in a park.

Have done it about 18 days with a POS MTB, and it takes me about an hour plus or minus.

So far, I have ridden without a helmet, lights, or safety gear.

I purchased a cyclo computer and LED rear flashers and headlight, and I have an orange reflector belt. I also got a cheapo 19.00 Schwinn black bikehelmet.

Anything else I need for safety?

Also, what do I need to know about bike etiquette?

Do you ride on the road or sidewalk? Which is safer?

If on the road, do you pass cars in line at a stop sign or light and go to the front, or do you pretend you are a motorcycle and wait in line? Which is more dangerous?

What are the biggest complaints from drivers, and what can I do to be a better biker? What are some no-nos?

Thanks!
Make it a rule not to ride on a sidewalk. One, because sidewalks are intended for pedestrians, and two, because riding on a sidewalk reinforces the stereotype that bikes are toys and unsafe for road use.

That said, I've sometimes pulled onto a sidewalk to dismount, if the sidewalk is clear and there's limited shoulder. And at times the 'bike path' doubles as a sidewalk, so I have no choice. (Around the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, for example.)

I'd never 'filter forward' at a stop sign, but I might do it at a light. It depends on how safe I feel at the time.
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Old 05-26-07, 04:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooker
One piece of bike etiquette I like to see: don't pass other cyclists waiting at a stoplight! I hate it when two or three of us are waiting and some turkey pedals up and parks at the front of the line.
I'm guessing this is a really local thing. Where I ride, if you got your knickers in a knot over something like that, people would think, "It ain't the Tour de France, Lance!"
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Old 05-26-07, 08:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lil brown bat
I'm guessing this is a really local thing. Where I ride, if you got your knickers in a knot over something like that, people would think, "It ain't the Tour de France, Lance!"
Okay, it's a minor annoyance, but sometimes downtown you have to pull out and pass the same person three times in three blocks and they are oblivious to their own rudeness. And the OP did ask about etiquette
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Old 05-27-07, 07:06 PM   #16
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Even a cheap helmet's good if it passes the ANSI test. So much the better if it passes Snell. And if you save yourself serious injury for less than $20, you're doing quite well.

What brand of lights did you buy? That'll probably be my next purchase, and I'd like to get good ones.

Also, are the frame-mounted pumps sold at stores like Target any good? I was looking at all my tire patch stuff, and realized that I didn't have a way to blow the tire back up.

-Bill
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Old 05-27-07, 09:54 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Historian
Make it a rule not to ride on a sidewalk. One, because sidewalks are intended for pedestrians, and two, because riding on a sidewalk reinforces the stereotype that bikes are toys and unsafe for road use.

That said, I've sometimes pulled onto a sidewalk to dismount, if the sidewalk is clear and there's limited shoulder. And at times the 'bike path' doubles as a sidewalk, so I have no choice. (Around the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, for example.)

I'd never 'filter forward' at a stop sign, but I might do it at a light. It depends on how safe I feel at the time.
I ride on sidewalks frequently, esepcially in lieu of riding in the traffic of a busy thoroughfare. I do give way to pedestrians.
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Old 05-28-07, 12:10 AM   #18
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I ride on sidewalks frequently, esepcially in lieu of riding in the traffic of a busy thoroughfare. I do give way to pedestrians.
Riding on sidewalks is a dangerous habit. Even in places it is legal, such as Ohio, it's not recommended. By riding on the sidewalk you are becoming a danger to pedestrians, and, in certain cases, such as cars pulling out of driveways, yourself. Also, it reinforces the motorist mindset that thinks bikes are toys and shouldn't be on roads.
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Old 05-28-07, 04:37 AM   #19
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Hey all, thanks again for all the info.

Helmet was from Wally World or Target, can't remember. It'll do the trick. The only thing I don't like is the sweat falling into my sunglasses...

Cateye Bike lights and Cateye Velo 5 computer came in a combo pack from eBay. I wil be riding during the day, so they are more to be seen than to see.

There is a stretch about 3/4 mile that has no bike bath, and it is pretty busy in the AMs. SKINNY 2 lane road, no shoulder, and plenty of blind curves. And remember, this is Arkansas, land of Billy-Earls in pickup trucks. A dude on a bike might be a target moreso than someone to avoid. "Hey, Billy-Earl, let's see how close to this here city boy bi-cyclist weirdo we can get without touching him. Ride a bike to work? Hell, that justs plain un-American."

The sidewalk in question is one that NOBODY ever uses, with no trees, and plenty of visibility.

I will probably continue to use the path, but get off if there are any "moving meat pylons" (chuckle) on it. I will keep an eye out for the "right turn, Clydes" out there since the sidewalk is contraflow. Never considered that they wouldn't be looking for me...

Can't wait for my road bike to get here, as I am dreading the commute on the lead weighted POS MTB!!

Last edited by magilla; 05-28-07 at 04:45 AM.
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Old 05-28-07, 04:43 AM   #20
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Wear a doorag or skullcap under the helmet to help control the sweat.
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Old 05-28-07, 09:52 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Historian
Riding on sidewalks is a dangerous habit. Even in places it is legal, such as Ohio, it's not recommended. By riding on the sidewalk you are becoming a danger to pedestrians, and, in certain cases, such as cars pulling out of driveways, yourself. Also, it reinforces the motorist mindset that thinks bikes are toys and shouldn't be on roads.
We're just going to have to disagree on this one.
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