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Old 10-03-12, 09:19 PM   #1
Mark Stone
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Important Safety Gear: Panniers?

I moved the rack and the trunk/panniers from "The Rig" to the Black Knight bike about two weeks ago. Before I did that, during rides I was getting a lot of flack (yells, curses, etc.) from cage drivers, plus a close carbuzz every week or so. You know the carbuzz - where they pass you so closely so as to make a point. Since I moved the rack and bags over, however, this has stopped. People are suddenly friendly, polite, say "Hi", offer water, and cars steer clear when I'm riding. The only change has been the installation of the bags. I'm still a big jerk and my riding style is like the Portlandia guy (except I don't use a whistle), but suddenly people are nice. Is it the bags? Maybe I look like a European tourist going cross-country on my bike and they want me to feel welcome? Sup with this??!?
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Old 10-03-12, 09:31 PM   #2
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*note to self, buy rack and panniers*
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Old 10-04-12, 04:38 AM   #3
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i think they take you seriously. I get the same thing.
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Old 10-04-12, 09:12 AM   #4
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You know the carbuzz - where they pass you so closely so as to make a point.
Never blame malice for what could be explained by stupidity.
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Old 12-06-12, 07:12 AM   #5
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Yesterday a car passed by (they gave me plenty of room, it was not a dangerous situation) and a guy yelled out the window "Get a Car!" This is the first incident since I posted the op over two months ago. All drivers have been polite, people smile and wave. I still think it's the panniers and maybe the lights on my bike that cause people to act differently. No one has buzzed me, cut me off, thrown anything, made faces, they all wait at intersections for me to pass, and they don't pull out from driveways. I ride some of the busiest streets and take the lane when I need to. This is great, but is it a fluke or is it the panniers? Over 60 days of highway peace, this is cool. For reference, here's the Black Knight bike:
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Old 12-06-12, 08:17 AM   #6
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There have been a bunch of studies that showed that the more "serious roadie" a cyclist looked, the less room they got. (Whether this was malice or drivers assuming they didn't need any more space since they were "experts" was not clear in those studies, since they were just looking at passing distance.) Helmets meant closer passes, although I recall one showing that a clown wig attached to the helmet would restore the distance. Women in skirts get a wider berth too -- in that case, I've heard it referred to as the Mary Poppins effect -- clearly, we need a pithy name for the pannier version.
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Old 12-06-12, 08:40 AM   #7
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I have been buzzed needlessly plenty of times while riding legally with a full load, including front and rear panniers. Back in May, during the last day of a three-day trip, I got so irate at a group of drivers drivers that I chased them down, caught up with them at a light and informed them of Pennsylvania's four-foot passing law. Maybe thrity minutes earlier, a guy buzzed me just to pull into a conveniience store parking lot not even .2 miles up the road. I pulled in and gave him a piece of my mind. His defense what that the oncoming car did not allow him room to move to the left. I informed him that in such a case, the law requires that he wait until it's safe to do so. In other words, you have to slow down until you can leave me with at least four feet. I think idea that car should have to slow for a bike is repugnant to some people.

On the flip side, I have also been given a wider than normal berth. Overall, I think the balance tips in favor of more courtesy. One of favorite acts of courtesy in recent memory occurred in Montana last year. The GF and I had just started riidng a 20 mile stretch of unpaved road. The early section ranged from sand to fine dirt. An oncoming pickup truck was kicking up a giant plume of dust. When the driver saw us approaching, he stopped so we would not have to ride though his dust cloud. It took us a couple of minutes to reach him but he sat there patiently. He smiled and waved as we rode buy and we thanked him.
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Old 12-06-12, 08:48 AM   #8
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I have definitely seen a major improvement in drivers attitudes from the time I've installed a pannier on my bike (I think this also came up in other post here at BF). It might be the "be kind to the tourist" deal, or I might look more like a "hardcore" cyclist, but the fact is that I haven't been harassed in quite a while in an otherwise bike unfriendly city.


Even a single pannier is enough to make a difference... or is it the vintage bicycle license plate?
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Old 12-06-12, 09:02 AM   #9
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I almost always ride with bags/panniers because I use my bike for errands and shopping. I do believe people give you more respect because you have a purpose and are not just "playing" on their road!

I also have a "croozer" cargo trailer and find that cars are more polite than without the trailer. Now if only something could be done about aggressive pickup truck drivers, nothing seems to deter them from their angry ways.
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Old 12-06-12, 10:01 AM   #10
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I also have a "croozer" cargo trailer and find that cars are more polite than without the trailer.
That's interesting, I'd see someone with a trailer on their bicycle as someone who couldn't possibly afford a car and be more annoyed that some homeless was on my road.

On the other hand, I tend to just see anything on the road as an autocross cone to be dodged, whether it be debris, or a slow moving car, it's just something in the way of allowing me to maintain speed.
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Old 12-06-12, 11:17 AM   #11
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indy there was a thread in the 41 last year I believe about a guy who was buzzed on the 101 and followed the guy into a restaurant and "gave him a piece of his mind". I think the truck driver beat the crepe out of the biker in the parking lot.

Was an interesting thread to see both sides of that argument.
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Old 12-06-12, 12:27 PM   #12
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That's interesting, I'd see someone with a trailer on their bicycle as someone who couldn't possibly afford a car and be more annoyed that some homeless was on my road.
Then you would be incorrect at times. My guess is more often than not.
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Old 12-07-12, 05:29 AM   #13
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Trac: Get some reflect spoke tape. Would look great on the spokes. Check it out
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Old 12-07-12, 01:23 PM   #14
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FWIW I don't have panniers, trailers or anything like that and rarely have issues with cars and the people in them. I ride between 6k and 10k miles a year.
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Old 12-07-12, 04:39 PM   #15
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FWIW I don't have panniers, trailers or anything like that and rarely have issues with cars and the people in them. I ride between 6k and 10k miles a year.
That's refreshing to hear. Usually all we hear are horror stories of how we are taking our lives in our own hands by bicycling. What do you think you do differently than what many of us do? I'm thinking that since I put the panniers on the bike perhaps I'm riding a bit differently myself, but I can't put my finger on it.
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Old 12-07-12, 08:14 PM   #16
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That's refreshing to hear. Usually all we hear are horror stories of how we are taking our lives in our own hands by bicycling. What do you think you do differently than what many of us do? I'm thinking that since I put the panniers on the bike perhaps I'm riding a bit differently myself, but I can't put my finger on it.
It probably has more to do with where I ride rather than that I do anything particularly different. I live an ride in mostly rural areas where the people tend to be a bit less hurried. The vast majority of time's where I've had issues it's been in townes and cities.
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Old 12-09-12, 12:55 AM   #17
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I never found having panniers to make a difference. I think the area has a lot more to do with it. An area where bikes are common sights on the road will have drivers more likely to see you and accept you. For instance, riding in the Philadelphia area, which has a lot of cyclists, and Lancaster County, where the Amish use bikes to get around, was a lot easier than riding in Ohio, where both Stoutdog and I had close calls with trucks on a 46 mile ride in 2011. PA, despite Indyfabz's bad time, is better than Ohio simply because the Keystone State has more cyclists on the roads.
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Old 02-01-13, 08:35 AM   #18
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A few weeks ago I took off the panniers and installed a genuine Coca Cola basket (see pic) and added lights to it. Since I did that nothing has changed - I am having no issues with cagers at all.

Bafore:


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