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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-27-05, 06:55 AM   #1
TuckertonRR
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the "hood"

On part of my commute I have to bike a few miles through "the hood" (for lack of a better term). Unfortunately, the other day I had a flat right in pobably the worst part of it. So I tried to fix it right then and there, but not a minute after I stopped (and NOBODY around) someone came up and what else...."ya got fifty cents?" so i rode almost flat to the next major intersection where there are a few legitimate businesses where I'd be relatively safe to change the tube.

My question to those of you who ride in not so great areas, how do you deal with situations like the above? Any tips? (I might add that anyone looking at me can see from a mile away I don't belong in the area)
thanks,
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Old 06-27-05, 07:05 AM   #2
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I normally just say no and if necessary, I'll just push my bike to the next intersection. Don't give them a dime.
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Old 06-27-05, 07:08 AM   #3
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When I used to live in rough areas and people would ask me for money I would say no and go on with my business. I've been around the world and the only place I've ever been mugged is Ohama, Nebraska. Go figure.

Last edited by Ziemas; 06-27-05 at 07:14 AM.
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Old 06-27-05, 07:46 AM   #4
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I agree with Ziemas just politely say no (or yes if you are so inclined) and go on about your business. Panhandlers almost never pose a risk to you. You usually won't see or anticipate the people who will do you harm. If you regularly pass the same people make sure you say "hi" on a regular basis. It is very cheap insurance for the day you have a breakdown. If the people in the neighborhood know you on sight as the guy who always says "hi" you will find yourself treated pretty well. The big thing is to relax and not get overly paranoid about the 'hood.

After living 12 years in rough parts of DC, I've found that if you treat people in the hood decently, politely and don't react with fear to everyone around you, they will normally treat you the same. Despite appearances and stereotypes people in rough neighborhoods do not sit around looking for ways to hassle people who happen through. Given provocation or a disrespectful attitude you can bring a wealth of grief down on yourself, but a live and let live attitude lets you coast through.
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Old 06-27-05, 08:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marylandnewbie
I agree with Ziemas just politely say no (or yes if you are so inclined) and go on about your business. Panhandlers almost never pose a risk to you. You usually won't see or anticipate the people who will do you harm. If you regularly pass the same people make sure you say "hi" on a regular basis. It is very cheap insurance for the day you have a breakdown. If the people in the neighborhood know you on sight as the guy who always says "hi" you will find yourself treated pretty well. The big thing is to relax and not get overly paranoid about the 'hood.

After living 12 years in rough parts of DC, I've found that if you treat people in the hood decently, politely and don't react with fear to everyone around you, they will normally treat you the same. Despite appearances and stereotypes people in rough neighborhoods do not sit around looking for ways to hassle people who happen through. Given provocation or a disrespectful attitude you can bring a wealth of grief down on yourself, but a live and let live attitude lets you coast through.
Outstanding post! Thanks!
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Old 06-27-05, 08:10 AM   #6
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You can get a flat in center city, and people will come up asking for change. Even in the West Philly area, I have found that if you are nice about it they will go on their way and leave you alone. It's more the punk kids you have to worry about.
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Old 06-27-05, 08:10 AM   #7
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Yup. Show respect, get respect. I've heard from others that they've been advised to not even ride through my neighborhood, but whatever.

Exercise some common sense, though. If you breakdown in some secluded little corner, make your way to someplace that has more visibility, that sort of thing. If possible, keep a lower profile. People get weirded out by the full-on roadie kit and can seize on that as a target or an indicator of someone who might be out of their element and open to some intimidation. Even trading in the rainbow sponsored jersey for a solid color with a little looser fit, putting some light nylon shorts over the padded shorts, those sorts of things can tone down your image and make you look a little more normal.
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Old 06-27-05, 08:38 AM   #8
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I *live* in "da hood". Every single time I leave the house some dirtbag hits me up.

I have found that smiling and saying "I'm sorry, but I'm Canadian" seems to stop them dead in their tracks. They seem to have witty responses pre-worked-out for most things people will say, but that one isn't one they're ready for.
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Old 06-27-05, 08:48 AM   #9
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yeah, if you don't feel comfortable just cruise up to the next intersection - like you did. you never know anyone's story though, so just politey but firmly say no if you don't want to give them money. speaking of this - has anyone ever needed to get change from a stranger before? i needed a quarter to use the phone once. talk about humbling. man, NOBODY wants to help when you really do need it. i quickly learned to judge people thinking "oh, you think you're better than me?!" when they would look down at the ground and quickly pass. haha.
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Old 06-27-05, 09:24 AM   #10
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just pretend that you've got nothing to offer.

"dude it's not like I bring my wallet when I'm riding my bike!"
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Old 06-27-05, 09:26 AM   #11
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I agree with Marylandnewbie and others with simiar thoughts on 'The 'hood'.
My ride take s me through on of the worst towns west of Philly (Coatesville)
you can imagine.
In the morning I acknowldge everyone regardless of how shady they look and in
the afternoon I am lucky I found a slightly better route around the part that
gives off the most angry and negative vibes for want of a better term.
To answer your question though, I really dont know what Id do in that situation...
Fix quickly and get rolling ASAP or look for a safer place ? Hmmmmmm..........
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Old 06-27-05, 09:29 AM   #12
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Maryland's advice is spot on -- I've always made it a point to wave at damn near everyone in the roughest neighborhoods. It doesn't take long to know everyone by sight.

I'm not suggesting that you don't, but on this topic, I think carrying yourself with a lot of confidence -- you're sure where you are and you're comfortable in what you're doing -- sends a signal to the dirt bags to leave you alone. Don't look or act like prey, and you're less likely to become it. The panhandlers are one thing, but primarily you want to deter those who mean you harm.... I biked for four years in West Philly, including regular jaunts down Osage Ave. and even into Mantua *at night*. Also regularly rode Blue Hill Ave in Boston. Never had a real problem. Could be just a lot of luck, but I like to think, at least for my own sanity, that a lot of the preventative things and a solid attitude make a difference....
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Old 06-27-05, 09:38 AM   #13
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people can see fear in your eye. so just don't be scared. as others have said hopefully if you treat everyone respectfully you will get respect in return.
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Old 06-27-05, 09:40 AM   #14
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I'm a nice person by design so when someone asks me if I can spare some change, and I am able to, I almost certainly will help them out, unless something inside me tells me it is a better idea not to, such as if the personis OBVIOUSLY a drug addict and I feel the money is going for drugs.
Usually when I am approached like this I am outside of a quickie-mart and someone asks for spare change to get something to eat. If I believe them, I'll offer to purchase the food for them, if I do not believe them, I'll say something to the affect that I do not cary my wallet when biking but let me check for some loose change (which I'll conveniently not find). Then there are the guys who come up with such elabotate stories that I have to give them a few bucks just for the effort.
I was raised to believe that if I could help someone less fortunate than myself I should, and I try to live by that.
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Old 06-27-05, 10:20 AM   #15
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thanks for the replies. I ride through this area 2-3 times a week maybe (take the train, mostly, though. I don't have a problem riding through, just in this one instance (a flat) I had to get off the bike and sit in one place for a while to change the tube. In this particular area though there's _never_ anyone around (an old vacant industrial area) the only people I EVER see in the area are dealers & hookers, but again, just riding through, nobody really has ever said anything much to me. (except this once)
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Old 06-27-05, 10:56 AM   #16
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This is one of the reasons I do not wear cycling clothing, I just wear shorts and a t-shirt so I do not look like I have much money, I also leave my bike dirty for the same reason. When I do have a flat I try to stop at a busy intersection and put my back to a wall so I can keep an eye on things.
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Old 06-27-05, 11:09 AM   #17
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People always ask for spare change in a section 8 or bad neighborhood. Strange behavior.
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Old 06-27-05, 11:10 AM   #18
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Well, the one time I took my commute home through the heart of Harlem I got pegged at point-blank range with a water balloon to the ear. I haven't gone back that way since, but it's not like I haven't ridden through a zillion times in the past. I think if I were to get a flat there, I'd roll-up to a retail establishment and change my tire out front. If there's trouble, go inside. Or maybe if some people were hanging out on their stoop I'd ask to sit with them while I changed the tube.

Edit: I should add that I, too, live in the 'hood, though a better area than where I was water-ballooned.
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Old 06-27-05, 12:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TuckertonRR
not a minute after I stopped (and NOBODY around) someone came up and what else...."ya got fifty cents?"thanks,
Ask them if they have change for a $20.
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Old 06-27-05, 12:39 PM   #20
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I agree that carrying yourself with confidence can go a long way to detering trouble. As far as pan-handlers are concerened, I usually take it on a case by case basis, sometimes it's good to invest in a little 'what goes around comes around'. If someone is approaching me that I don't like the looks of in that sort of situation, I'll take control and address them first. Something like, "Hey man do you have a dollar or some change I could have? My bike just got a flat, and if I don't catch the bus I'm going to be totally late!". This also lets them know that you aren't carrying any money.
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Old 06-27-05, 12:41 PM   #21
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Ask them if they have change for a $20.
...and then be prepared to give them the $20 if they decide they want it bad enough.
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Old 06-27-05, 01:10 PM   #22
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Do what I do. Tell them, "If I had money, do you think I would be out here on this damned bike. I'd be ridin' the bus where it's cool."
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Old 06-27-05, 01:33 PM   #23
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Good advice all around. Say no and don't be scared. Most people asking for money at worst will maybe complain or curse at you. I've lived and commuted in some pretty bad parts of Philly, and thats the worst thats ever happened to me.

Or you could just adjust your route a bit to stay on busier, more populated roads.

I just try to remember that they are people just like me. And if anyone messes with me, I can always hit them with my bike...

Where in Philly do you commute through?
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Old 06-27-05, 01:37 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olebiker
Do what I do. Tell them, "If I had money, do you think I would be out here on this damned bike. I'd be ridin' the bus where it's cool."

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Old 06-27-05, 01:44 PM   #25
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I ride though bed stuy and it gets pretty hairy in some places at night. My only consolation is that my headlights and taillight are really bright, so that detracts attention away from me. Otherwise, I'm in tight orange spandex, if I got a flat in one of those neighborhoods, I'll probably hit 20mph riding on my rims if I had to.
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