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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 10-08-07, 08:44 PM   #1
ho hum
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Safety Question

I'm starting to commute about 9 miles one way to work. I live in a small community with a few cyclists and you could say a less-than-friendly treatment by some motorists. I travel about 4 miles on a two lane highway with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour. It has some shoulder, some turn lanes and room for cars to pass and give plenty of space, most of the time.

What is getting to me is the large four-wheeler pickups that come by close enough that it is unnerving to me. I also have a section of road that is about a mile long of 4 lanes with a middle turning lane but no shoulder. When two cars pass me going the same direction I am and are right next to each other they are also a little spooky. I've managed to hold my own and when I reach town, there are bike lanes and MUP's that make the last 4 miles enjoyable.

Any suggestions on dealing with the local rednecks?
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Old 10-08-07, 08:57 PM   #2
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Are they really being rednecks and buzzing you, or are they within their lanes and you're just uncomfortable with having a vehicle pass you at that speed? My answer would differ depending on which it is.
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Old 10-08-07, 09:04 PM   #3
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Well, there is a turn lane in the middle that they could give me a little room in as they pass. I wouldn't say they were out of their lanes. They aren't rude in any way when they pass they just don't move over much. I am a little uncomfortable having a vehicle pass me at that speed. However, I've ridden I-10 for 60 miles with vehicles passing me at 80 MPH and I can't say that I've felt as nervous.
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Old 10-08-07, 09:56 PM   #4
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Roads like yours are usually not a fun ride. Sounds like if the traffic is not deliberately rude, they are just (as most drivers are) completely oblivious to you. My method is that if there's a good shoulder I use it. If it's marginal or excessiively small I move far enough out in the road to force traffic to do somethiing to avoid me. That way they're less likely to unintentionally hit me. As the mornings (and afternoons) get darker, add a Dinotte rear and front light to your bike and you WILL get more respect.

Scott
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Old 10-09-07, 02:28 AM   #5
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Well, there is a turn lane in the middle that they could give me a little room in as they pass. I wouldn't say they were out of their lanes.
Whose lane is it? Either you are in the lane and it is yours, or you are over at the side of the road just waiting to be passed really close.

Do give them a choice, take up enough space that if they want to pass you, they will have to change lanes, and get out of YOUR lane to pass.

I ride on 2 lane 55 mph roads with heavy traffic every day for 10-12 miles during high traffic times. I haven't been passed close in over a year. Ride in the right wheel track of the traffic lane ( don't use turn lanes unless you are turning, don't use shoulders, they are for emergencies not traffic use), and hold your position. Don't worry if they beep their horns, and don't worry if they sit right behind you (at least then you know they are not going to much faster than you).

Alot of riding in traffic is confidence, and assertiveness. Sounds like you have none whatsoever.

Last edited by maddyfish; 10-09-07 at 02:34 AM.
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Old 10-09-07, 05:35 AM   #6
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Are you using bright flashers in the rear and wearing bright jerseys? People seem to give me more space when I'm "lit up." It possible that some of these drivers just don't notice you.
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Old 10-09-07, 08:01 AM   #7
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I agree. When I know I'll be on roads like this I make sure whatever bike I'm riding is loaded up with blinkies and that I'm wearing a lime neon cycling jersey or jacket.

If the cars are doing 45-60 mph (common on rural routes) and the shoulder is rideable, I take the shoulder. If the shoulder is not rideable, I ride on the white line and let them queeze me at high speed. It's the only time I ever don't ride in the tiretrack. Since the cars cover so much ground per second, I don't want to be in their path at all. A guy leans over for 2-3 seconds to pickup a cd and you're dead. As uncomfortable and getting squeezed at high speed is, I'll take it.

If it's a ~45mph road or less, I'll take the right tire track.
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Old 10-09-07, 08:34 AM   #8
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Consider a mirror as well if you don't yet have one in addition to what maddy suggested.

That lets you see them approach to avoid any surprise and to see if they make any lateral adjustment as they are approaching. You can give yourself room on the right so if they don't adjust left, you can move right just before they pass.

Al
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Old 10-09-07, 08:36 AM   #9
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Whose lane is it? Either you are in the lane and it is yours, or you are over at the side of the road just waiting to be passed really close.

Do give them a choice, take up enough space that if they want to pass you, they will have to change lanes, and get out of YOUR lane to pass.

I ride on 2 lane 55 mph roads with heavy traffic every day for 10-12 miles during high traffic times. I haven't been passed close in over a year. Ride in the right wheel track of the traffic lane ( don't use turn lanes unless you are turning, don't use shoulders, they are for emergencies not traffic use), and hold your position. Don't worry if they beep their horns, and don't worry if they sit right behind you (at least then you know they are not going to much faster than you).

Alot of riding in traffic is confidence, and assertiveness. Sounds like you have none whatsoever.
I followed your advice this morning and the commute went alot better. I wore a reflective vest, turned on the little blinky and got out in the lane. It worked well. Thanks....
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Old 10-09-07, 05:08 PM   #10
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Nearly all of one of my work commute routes, the shortest, are 55 and 60 mph, rural, two lane highway.

I also have found things work better if I'm highly visible and out in the lane.
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Old 10-09-07, 09:28 PM   #11
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Meh .. let them blow horns...yell get on the side walk...just smile and wave and keep on keepin on.It's what i do...
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Old 10-09-07, 09:39 PM   #12
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That happened this evening. I got honked at twice. Makes me want to break out a chart and pointer and do a little education.
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Old 10-10-07, 06:06 AM   #13
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I followed your advice this morning and the commute went alot better. I wore a reflective vest, turned on the little blinky and got out in the lane. It worked well. Thanks....
Glad to hear it! The above suggestion of getting a good mirror is a good idea. I have a pretty good one mounted to the left brake hood.
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Old 10-13-07, 07:32 PM   #14
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Glad your safety vest is working. Likely it is a Class I or Class II vest. Highway crews in the more dangerous locations will wear a Class III shirt or jacket. Class IIIs have short to long sleeves with a lot more reflective material. They run about $35.00 on the 'net.
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Old 10-13-07, 08:24 PM   #15
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When you come to a right turn lane do you stay in the main traffic lane and out of the right turn lane? I'm a little worried about having cars on both sides of me.
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Old 10-13-07, 09:01 PM   #16
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Put a big American flag on the back of your bike. Really....Im not kidding.
I live around some level 1, code red, redneckage...I have noticed that I
get more room from the big feet neanderthals with the flag. I found it on
my ride one day so I stuck it on my pack and the results were instantanious.
Also....and again, for real....the bumbiker/crackhead look gets some room too....
If I was to make a supposition about rednecks it would be that the 'gay' lycra look
makes them irate....looking like a crackhead or bum is acceptable, however.
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