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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 01-08-04, 09:25 AM   #1
Bobdohm31
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Fear of being killed

I did some commuting to work last summer. It's a 21 mile one way trip which is a good distance for me to keep in shape. It was a good experience but one thing that started to get to me was the fear of being slammed by a car. Some of the roads I was on were a bit narrow and I just couldn't help thinking about some sleepy commuter in a car coming up on me while changing the radio or taking a slurp of coffee and ...BAM! I'm history. I never used to think about it when I wsa in my 20' or early 30's but now that I'm 40 with 2 kids I get to thinking theres more at stake than just me. Anyone else experience this type of paranoid dillusional thinking?
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Old 01-08-04, 09:37 AM   #2
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I think it goes through everyone's mind at one time or another. The important thing to know is whether the fear is justified, or imagined. That's something you have to discover for yourself.

Be safe, but don't let unreasonable fears govern your decisions.
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Old 01-08-04, 09:38 AM   #3
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As long as its a rational fear, everybody has thoughts that come to mind. Probably a reason why a bunch of us go to places like this forum to get piece of mind and advice! As long as it's not a total irrational fear that has you sweating up bullets everytime a car passes you, it's not out of the ordinary for one to have thoughts now and then. Do you use a mirror, they would help your sanity. I use one all the time, a Take-a-Look mirror that is great because I use it and only in certain situations. I have to turn my head slightly to use it so it isn't always "on" to be distracting, but also "on" when it is needed and easy to use.

Nothing wrong with fear though as long as it's not running your life. Leave to work earlier, leave for home earlier, alter your commute if possible to take back roads. I am at work by 7am and I leave at 4pm, thereby avoiding the peak rush hours and it's not like I live in a super rural state. I live and commute in northern NJ.

The more you commute, you'll realize that its fairly safe out there as long as you follow common sense and take some common measures such as lighting and reflectors, mirrors, bells, etc..

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Old 01-08-04, 09:44 AM   #4
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There is nothing to keep someone from crossing the center line while you are in your car, and BAM, you'r still history! Practice as many tips for keeping safe as you can and go live!

BTW, I'm 40 with 3 children still at home. I'm a med tech at the hospital in the next little town, and I can assure you more 40+ year olds are killed sitting on the couch, or down at the buffett, than are killed in traffic accidents. The population here is very sedate, and love to eat!
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Old 01-08-04, 10:04 AM   #5
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I figure for myself its probably a matter of time before some yahoo slams me (a lot of close calls so far), but I just hope it'll be minor - like the time the soccer mom in her volvo wagon proceeded to back up... into my rear wheel... luckily I was stopped at a red light- suddenly there was this tugging sensation in the rear of my cycle... so I look back and there she is.. backing up.. THEN she looks behind her, freaks and I motion for her to please stop and go forward... she freaks again and goes back more... anyway... yeah, everytime I go to work or home from work I fret getting hit.. I always pysch myself up mentally each inch of the way home and always think about which way to roll if I go down... the good stuff. It doesn't stop me, just keeps me on my toes... My new commuter will have a mirror.

The office secretary here says she *hates* cyclists because *she's* afraid she'll hit one... everyday she asks if I rode my bicycle and when I say YES she nods disapprovingly... I guess she doesn't get it - though everytime I tell her I don't like to drive my car for short distances... not even since I've clipped a "It doesn't take a war to power my bicycle" sticker on the shade in my office/cubicle.

Seems I'm rambling.

Anyway, fear is good, keeps you on your toes.
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Old 01-08-04, 10:06 AM   #6
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When someone tells me that my commute is dangerous, I respond with "sitting behind a desk all day with no excersize is dangerous too"!
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Old 01-08-04, 10:20 AM   #7
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Hi,
There is a great book called Effective Cycling by Forester. It will help you deal with traffic. There are also Effective Cycling classes, but I have never taken one. I found it in my library; if your library doesn't have it on the shelves, they can interlibrary loan it for you. It is very much worth reading, I really wish everyone had to read it. Especially noncyclists....

http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/bikebooks.htm
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Old 01-08-04, 10:20 AM   #8
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Wow thanks for all the encouraging replies. Puts a little more of a positive perspective on it. I too believe it's dangreous to sit on your ass all day long. You can bet I'll be back out on the road this spring.

Thanks,
Bob
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Old 01-08-04, 10:24 AM   #9
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Get life insurance and make peace with your maker and you'll have no fear.
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Old 01-08-04, 10:46 AM   #10
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My #1 prioriity is getting home alive every day for my family's sake. My 22+ mile round trip commute is really pretty safe, with only a couple of very short spots that are a little tense. I consider myself lucky in this regard. My commute is short enough to take alternate routes even if it means adding 3-4 miles. For example, my morning commute is only 9 miles because it is early enough (5 AM) to use main roads when there is almost no traffic. I can take almost the same route home in a little over 10 miles, but it is not much fun. I prefer to take a less direct 13+ mile route that has less traffic, more scenic and can easily be made 20+ miles when I have some extra time. At 21 miles already, adding 3-4 mles becomes a bit more of a concern for you, not so much the distance as the extra time. Do you have the option of working an earlier schedule and maybe avoid the worst of the traffic?
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Old 01-08-04, 01:19 PM   #11
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I seem to fret more about possible negative scenarios when I'm not riding or have been off the bike for a few days. Once on the road the apprehensions evaporate.

Here's a counter-intuitive tactic I've taken up recently: I keep my eyes off my mirror! I've found that a look back every so often (particularly when changing lanes or preparing to make a turn) and using the mirror sparingly allows me to focus more efficiently on my line, and I worry less about the overtaking traffic. I figure that by the time I detect via the mirror that my safety is imperiled it's too late anyway, and tensing up or attempting evasive actions in a panic will only stack the odds against me.

The mirror is best used on a bike path, for detecting the stealthy approaches of other cyclists.
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Old 01-08-04, 01:32 PM   #12
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According to this months Bicycling golfing is twice and dangerous as cycling, but cycling is twice as dangerous as bowling, and presents about the same risk level as yoga.
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Old 01-09-04, 12:38 AM   #13
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Since I do not drive a tank, I have an equal fear when driving a car..Last couple weeks I can recall at least once having to swerve to avoid being hit by a much larger vehicle- a pickup... So cars/bikes- I don't see that much difference. Is this fear why many of us are going to Hummers.. Bet they don't fare too well against concrete mixers.
I like to think that bike lanes have a solid white line seperating us from the crazies out there in competition for a little bit of asphalt.
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Old 01-09-04, 12:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by late
Hi,
There is a great book called Effective Cycling by Forester. It will help you deal with traffic. There are also Effective Cycling classes, but I have never taken one. I found it in my library; if your library doesn't have it on the shelves, they can interlibrary loan it for you. It is very much worth reading, I really wish everyone had to read it. Especially noncyclists....

http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/bikebooks.htm
I own that book which is really useful as a self defense weapon-- if anyone sneaks in my house tonight I'm gonna pick up that book, throw it across the room, and kill them with it. Or worse, make em read the book and in a fit of extreme boredom they should throw themselves out of the window and take their own life.

Dry, longwinded, yuck!
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Old 01-09-04, 04:01 PM   #15
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But if you haven't ridden a bicycle for 20 years, it's damn useful yuck.
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Old 01-09-04, 07:20 PM   #16
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It is a common worry ,but the numbers record that this kind of accident is quite rare ,( don't remember the percentage ??) .The thing with commuting is to not think of possible accidents but to just enjoy the ride ,just remember to look where you won't to go with your eyes & you & the bike will follow (hopefully to-gether)
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Old 01-09-04, 08:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by late
There is a great book called Effective Cycling by Forester. It will help you deal with traffic. There are also Effective Cycling classes, but I have never taken one. I found it in my library; if your library doesn't have it on the shelves, they can interlibrary loan it for you. It is very much worth reading, I really wish everyone had to read it. Especially noncyclists....

http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/bikebooks.htm
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