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Old 08-26-05, 11:39 PM   #1
RobbieIG
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Bloomington, Indiana - help a biker who has lost their nerve.

My brother just moved to Bloomington, Indiana to work at the university there, I got a call from him about how freaked out he's become of biking. He's been commuting for sometime in Portland, Oregon, and down at Stanford in California. I am not really sure I grasp everything that is going on, but the aggressiveness or alertness (or lack there of) of the drivers has him tripping out, scared, and depressed.

If anyone has any advice on commutinging in Bloomington, or how to handle the drivers there I'd really appreciate it, and I will make sure he gets the info.


PS. to those who do have info on this subject, I am sorry. It sounds really bad over there, I guess I have been blessed to have the fortune to live in two of the most biker friendly cities (Portland and Corvallis, Oregon). Much props, keep fighting the good fight.
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Old 08-27-05, 06:47 AM   #2
johnmci
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Whew...I lived in Bloomington for 13 years and, if I can read into your post, I THINK I have a notion of what's going on...

Bloomington is a wonderful place but from about mid-August to well into September it is just IN-SANE. Huge numbers of freshmen (and upper class students) arrive with their cars and have no idea how to get anywhere. During this time, the roads are filled with people just trying to get places and they have little care for bicyclists OR pedestrians.

Tell your brother to hang on for a bit - things DO settle down. Unfortunately, Bloomington is still filled with narrow streets, lots of traffic, and cars going too fast (10th St. comes to mind). What I learned during my time in Bloomington is there there are tons of alternate routes to anywhere (parallel side streets and the like) and you just have to get to know them.
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Old 08-27-05, 09:32 AM   #3
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Judging by your descriptions, I don't think he should feel bad about riding on sidewalks, either.
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Old 08-27-05, 08:38 PM   #4
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Every city has its own driving culture, none much worse or better than any other. You just have to be extra careful for a little while, when you move to a new place, to learn how drivers behave.
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Old 08-28-05, 10:58 AM   #5
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I wouldn't think it would be that bad. I live in Indy and was raised just south of Bloomington. It is a college town and many people ride bikes there. The "Hilly Hundred" is one of the biggest bike rides in the midwest and is held just north of Bloomington. This is also the city where Breaking Away was filmed.

The biggest problem is the impatient kids driving their cars. Just stay to the right and keep riding. We are working hard all over the state to make Indiana more bike friendly.

Have him visit:

http://www.bloomington.in.us/~bbc/

and

http://www.bicycleindiana.org/

for local info.
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Old 08-28-05, 04:37 PM   #6
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Hi- I've lived in Bloomington for the past 18 years and haven't driven a car since 1992. johnmci has it right-- it is insane right now and it will be for the next couple weeks while IU's student body settles in. Kids have no idea where they're going, townies are irritated at the sudden boom in clueless population (even after 18 years, it never gets any easier), plus we really do have really horrible drivers here and many people have a very negative attitude towards cyclists (mainly due to the many crappy cyclists we have here, too). Everyone is agitated.

The best time to explore the town is Sunday morning-- it's extremely quiet then. He can explore secondary roads and find a couple different routes to campus to try (what side of town is he coming from?). Riding on the sidewak is illegal in town and the police do ticket for it. I can't count how many cyclists have been hit by cars riding on the sidewalks (a guy this summer was run over by a cement truck after riding on the sidewalk heading the wrong way down a one way street and running a red light), plus they are usually full of pedestrians. Very bad idea and he shouldn't do it.

The traffic will calm down, he just needs to be prepared to ride more defensively than he may be used to. I'm dreading riding to campus tomorrow, but I've done it before and just try to take it in stride. I take the lane when I need to and smile and wave a lot! He shoud definitely check out the Bloomington Bicycle Club, as many of the members there also work at IU and have regular group rides. There is a group ride coming up on September 10 called Hoosier Hills Bike Tour that he may want to try-- he'd certainly meet people and get a chance to see how great cycling can be in Bloomington. If he has questions, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can swap emails. I wish him luck and courage! It will get better!
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Old 08-28-05, 08:56 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=velomedieval]Hi- I've lived in Bloomington for the past 18 years and haven't driven a car since 1992. johnmci has it right-- it is insane right now and it will be for the next couple weeks while IU's student body settles in. Kids have no idea where they're going, townies are irritated at the sudden boom in clueless population (even after 18 years, it never gets any easier), plus we really do have really horrible drivers here and many people have a very negative attitude towards cyclists (mainly due to the many crappy cyclists we have here, too). Everyone is agitated.

The best time to explore the town is Sunday morning-- it's extremely quiet then. He can explore secondary roads and find a couple different routes to campus to try (what side of town is he coming from?). Riding on the sidewak is illegal in town and the police do ticket for it. I can't count how many cyclists have been hit by cars riding on the sidewalks (a guy this summer was run over by a cement truck after riding on the sidewalk heading the wrong way down a one way street and running a red light), plus they are usually full of pedestrians. Very bad idea and he shouldn't do it.

The traffic will calm down, he just needs to be prepared to ride more defensively than he may be used to. I'm dreading riding to campus tomorrow, but I've done it before and just try to take it in stride. I take the lane when I need to and smile and wave a lot! He shoud definitely check out the Bloomington Bicycle Club, as many of the members there also work at IU and have regular group rides. There is a group ride coming up on September 10 called Hoosier Hills Bike Tour that he may want to try-- he'd certainly meet people and get a chance to see how great cycling can be in Bloomington. If he has questions, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can swap emails. I wish him luck and courage! It will get better![/QUOTE

I agree with what everyone said. Btown is great for biking but this time of the year you have freshman and families helping with their move so that makes the roads too crowded. Tell your brother to hang in there and things will calm down in a month or two. He would still be better served by using secondary roads and avoidiing 10th and 3rd streets. Btw, there are very nice trails around Bloomington that he should check out if he has a mountain bike.
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Old 08-29-05, 06:49 AM   #8
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Hi All! I'm the brother. Thanks for the clarification on things. For those that are interested, I (will be) work(ing) on the 5th floor of Eigenmann with the Quest Atlantis group. I'd love to get in touch with fellow cyclists around here. My IU username is aingramg if you want to email directly.

Interesting what was said about riding on the sidewalk. Everyone I've talked to in person has said that riding on the sidewalk is allowed, and encouraged, but I have a feeling that this is like the rumor that you won't get ticketed for parking in a permit zone during the week before classes or finals. Also, why is it that everyone seems to get in an accident with a cement truck? One of the other grad students said he got sideswiped/run off the road by a cement truck last week. I haven't actually seen a cement truck here yet, but i have seen plenty of "inventive driving".

If anyone has specific route suggestions for getting from university commons apartments (on Clarizz Blvd) to Eigenmann, please let me know My bike should be arriving on Thursday, so I'll be out for my first ride either that night or for commuting Friday.
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Old 08-29-05, 07:24 AM   #9
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Adamaig-- there is a lovely and well-hidden bike path that runs from behind the Marsh Supermarket (across 3rd St. from Clarizz) to the 10th and the bypass intersection. You can then either cross at the light and take your chances going down that narrow stretch of 10th street to Eigenmann, or cross where the bike path ends and cut through the neighborhood there and end up on Union, a half block from Eigenmann. I have to ride in to campus right now (eeek!), but I'll email you this afternoon and tell you how to get to the bike path.

The bike shop on the edge of campus on Kirkwood has a rack full of literature including pamphlets with the bicycle laws for the state and for Bloomington (I like to photocopy these and stick them under people's windshield wipers when I see them yelling at cyclists to get off the road). They also have free maps of "bike routes" in Bloomington-- not great, but it's a start.

Oh yeah-- the cement trucks are all the rage this year. The last couple years it has been garbage trucks taking out cyclists.
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Old 08-29-05, 05:26 PM   #10
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Also remember that you need to register your bike with parking operations. When I went to grad school, there was a lot of talk on how many bikes were stolen every year so lock your bike well to assure that it is there when you are ready to go home. Good luck and enjoy Bloomington!
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