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  1. #1
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    How do you feel about commuting through "rough" areas?

    I'm thinking of commuting 10 miles to school (20 mile round trip) however there is a stretch of the commute I don't exactly feel thrilled to ride through on a daily basis. For those of you that go through rougher areas of town, is it ever an issue? Also the stretch is far from flat some areas would make me feel even more vulnerable that on a straight flat ride.

    For those of you that live in San Diego, the commute would essentially consist of:

    Woodman to Imperial Ave (Encanto area) to Massachusetts to University and finally up College Ave

    What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    I'm not from San Diego and don't know your area; however, I do know that a lot of fear of "rougher areas" isn't really based in reality. My best advice is to discard perception, learn what you can about the reality, and remember that the majority of people in the majority of so-called "rougher areas" are just people like you...only not as fortunate.
    You have the right to your own opinion. You don't have the right to your own facts.

  3. #3
    me have long head tube TallRider's Avatar
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    so you mean riding through poorer areas, with higher crime rates, maybe populated by a higher % of ethnic minorities? It's an interesting question. "That part of town where when you hit a red light you don't stop" as Springsteen would put it.

    I've lived in Cleveland, in a relatively "inner-city" area, but always felt safe biking, although it's not like I went through alleyways or anything.

    It is worth noting that while most people in "rougher areas" are just getting by and pose no threat, crime rates can differ drastically between different parts of a given city.

    The question for cyclists is thinking of possible dangers, and putting likelihood-odds on them. Here's a list:
    - auto accidents (more likely than normal busy roads?)
    - theft of bike and possessions
    - unintentional victim of gunfire not aimed at you
    - victim of gunfire aimed at you for sport or animosity toward cyclists, or theft
    - messing up your front wheel in a pothole (as roads are likely less well-maintained in these areas)

  4. #4
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    Of course some if it is just paranoia but I would be riding past two locations where high school teamates/friends were shot and killed most likely by people just trying to get by. Now, obviously the situation they were in was not a daily biking commute but at the same time its not Pleasantville.

    I guess I pose the question more out of reading the "I got attacked" thread and I understand that is a case study as opposed to what happens on a typical commute however I'm sure everyone's ratio between days they have crashed and haven't crashed is low enough to not justify wearing a helmet but most of us do "just in case".

    Now that I think about it I guess this is more of a rhetorical question and I will just have to ride it and see what happens however I would love to hear your guys' opinions.

  5. #5
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    daytime or nighttime? Daytime I say suck it up and go for it. Night time I might be encouraged to find a way around.
    I hope you flip your bike over and knock your two front teeth out! You selfish son of a b***h! - wedding crashers

  6. #6
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Act and dress like you belong, mind your own business, pay attention, avoid confrontations, you'll be fine.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    uke
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    it's easy if you let it. uke's Avatar
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    If I don't feel safe riding somewhere, I drive. No big deal.

    JesseDuncan:I just love how "cars will be forced to cross the double yellow lines on dangerous limited visibility roads".

    I don't want to have a head on but oh god, I HAVE to fling myself into oncoming traffic to pass, theres no alternative!!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    The only fear I have of rougher areas is dogs. Everything else I can avoid. Not like they'll shoot me for fun or anything. They might pretend to physically attack me and see if they can make me fall off, but I am confident enough and experienced enough in singletrack riding enough that I can plow through people since trees are a little sturdier than people and I run into trees all the time since I have this fascination with starting at my cyclometer.

    However, if you personally don't feel safe, then don't do it. The point is that you should feel safe.
    Falling is learning...[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]...learn to not fall in a box.
    Any good American will watch THIS -and- WHERE WAS MY BIKE MADE?

  9. #9
    Mirror slap survivor
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    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
    I'm not from San Diego and don't know your area; however, I do know that a lot of fear of "rougher areas" isn't really based in reality. My best advice is to discard perception, learn what you can about the reality, and remember that the majority of people in the majority of so-called "rougher areas" are just people like you...only not as fortunate.

    Or he could visit his local PD and check the crime reports for that area. Sometimes perception IS reality.

    If he blends into the area, that's one thing. But if the OP is riding a nice shiny expensive bike in an area where people have to choose between rent or food he could be a tempting target.
    "When I'm on a bike, it's like I'm 14 again, racing off to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters."

  10. #10
    tsl
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    I work at three different neighborhood branches of the public library. One is in a pretty decent area, the second is in a fringe area, and the third is deep in the heart of da 'hood. A cop was shot around the corner recently, in the back of the head as he was walking back to his car--by a kid we had to throw out of the library a few months back.

    I'll admit I was apprehensive on the first day I rode there. Things have turned out much like Lil Brown Bat said above. Folks are folks, wherever you go. Frankly, I find the experience of cycling in the suburbs far more dangerous.

    I haven't found Schwinnrider's conjecture about riding a nice rig to be a problem. My Trek Portland and I hardly rate a glance, even with the dual DiNottes blazing up front and one flashing in the rear. And did I mention I ride in full hi-viz commuter regalia? That said, I stick to the main streets.

    Still, staff have indoor bike parking privileges, so that's not an issue for me. If I had to lock outside it would be a completely different story.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  11. #11
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    Take responsibility for your community.

    If you're not there then who will protect the other guy that was brave enough to ride it or the poor sap that lives there? How do you think these neighborhoods become like this? Abandonment/avoidance by law abiding citizens is how.

    Be a coward and the baddies will come to your neighborhood next, forcing your grandkids out to the boonies where they will die from pollution and obesity. You don't have to be Mother Theresa to stop it, so shame on you if you let it happen.
    Last edited by makeinu; 03-31-09 at 09:00 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schwinnrider View Post
    Sometimes perception IS reality.
    And sometimes perception CREATES reality. It's not like the ground is cursed. The only reason crime is high in such areas is because the baddies know we won't get in their way.

    I commute through the worst areas of one of the top ten deadliest cities in America and I make sure I stop to chat with the little kids because I know from the crime stats that they sure as hell need better influences/role-models. Sure, I've had to brawl with the teenagers, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let anyone drag my city, my home, to deeper depths.

  13. #13
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    I bike through some rough areas, although I am a bit of a thrill seeker at heart. Sometimes I ride through because I am too lazy to go around an area. Sometimes I just want to see what is going on there. I find weekday mornings pretty deserted - most people working or sleeping in. Evenings get interesting fast. I am much less likely to venture into rough areas after dark or like NEVER late at night.

    Like others have written, most folks are cool. I do take every precaution against flatting a tire though. And carry some pretty BadA** pepper spray.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  14. #14
    Strong with the Fred Big_e's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    Take responsibility for your community.

    If you're not there then who will protect the other guy that was brave enough to ride it or the poor sap that lives there? How do you think these neighborhoods become like this? Abandonment/avoidance by law abiding citizens is how.

    Be a coward and the baddies will come to your neighborhood next, forcing your grandkids out to the boonies where they will die from pollution and obesity. You don't have to be Mother Theresa to stop it, so shame on you if you let it happen.
    +1 to that. The part of town I live in is considered by many to be a rough part of town. Just make sure to treat people like people. Look them in the eye as you ride by and tell them "good afternoon" or "good morning". They'll get used to you and you'll soon become part of the regulars as you ride through.
    Along the lines of what Makeinu said, I make note of improvements needed on my ride. I have reported, and caused to have abated, potholes, graffiti, burned out streetlights and stray dogs. I live here and plan to stay here for a long time.
    I'm a city employee so if I smash into a pothole or get chased by strays in the early morning dark, I'll come back to the location in my assigned city vehicle, call the violation in and get the problem resolved. Personal interest? Heck yeah! I consider my entire job in serving the citizens of Dallas as a personal interest.
    Ernest
    I love pho long time.

  15. #15
    Senior Member chicbicyclist's Avatar
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    Those are some relatively busy roads. So long as you use common sense, you're fine.

  16. #16
    Old AND Slow Bill Shanks's Avatar
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    Treat people with respect, live and let live. You'll be OK.

  17. #17
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    You're right Eric04, you will have to ride it and see how it goes. I would say most times, nothing happens, people are just trying to get by. I choose to try and blend in, but since I commute at night it's hard to do with my lights on. Just certain stretches I will turn them off. If something does happen, don't be afraid to report it to the authorities. In my situation I don't think the police did anything, but hopefully they step up a presence in that area. Though I am glad I don't commute through some of the areas some of the other posters mentioned. Just be aware of your surrondings.

  18. #18
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    Hey Eric, I live in south San Diego. My commute runs up the west edge of national city. I see a lot of strange and interesting people, but they have never bothered me. Worst part is dodging all the broken bottles on the road. People in National City apparently don't beleive in recycling. Its always super quiet in the early morning.

  19. #19
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    My suggestion (halfway tongue in cheek) is to get some kind of gimmick on your bike. I ride through a part of town that isn't terrible but sometimes I get teens harassing me and what not. However, around Christmas time I put some battery powered lights around my bike and all of the sudden everyone who saw it was my best friend, in the same part of town. I would always get positive comments and shouts.

  20. #20
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    ^ I've seen a person with speakers and neon lights on the bike. I would be impressed if he powered them with his legs, but he wasn't that type.
    Falling is learning...[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]...learn to not fall in a box.
    Any good American will watch THIS -and- WHERE WAS MY BIKE MADE?

  21. #21
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    And rough neighborhood are sometimes not that bad. The same neighborhoods where people pretend to punch me to see if I fall or I get big, presumably illegal and fighting, rottweilers chased after me is where the residents of the projects tried to help when I got hit by a car. Those not native to that rough area just kept on going.
    Falling is learning...[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]...learn to not fall in a box.
    Any good American will watch THIS -and- WHERE WAS MY BIKE MADE?

  22. #22
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    I think it's important to consider the route, the timing, and your family. A "rough area" isn't so rough at 6:30 a.m., as the only folks out and about are either going to work or school. That same area at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday evening could be entirely uncivilized. I know this from direct experience.

    My regular commute passes less than one block from the spot where the Oakland cops were killed. I ride through debris fields containing glass, syringes, metal, blood, used condoms, and shell casings. No joke. I'm comfortable on the way in at 6:30 a.m., but take a longer - and safer - route home in the evening. I've had one too many incidents on the ride home, and frankly, I'd like to keep riding until I'm an old(er) man.

    IMO, it's pretty cavalier to suggest any notion of "standing up for your community" or other such nonsense. If you're considering doing such a thing, I suggest you poll your friends and loved ones first. Ask them what they prefer you do, then do as they wish. Because in the end, if you end up a statistic, they're the ones who'll have to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. You know, there's a reason we pay people to "serve and protect."

    Drive your route at the time of day you'd normally be riding. Check alternates and options. You may need multiple routes. The mechanical condition of your bike must be impeccable, and your tires reliable. Don't ride like you're scared, but don't be macho stupid either. Use your head, and go with your hunches.

    Ride safe. Be safe. This is the real world. Think about it.

  23. #23
    Large Member Geordi Laforge's Avatar
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    lol @ "rough areas" in san diego

  24. #24
    Mirror slap survivor
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu View Post
    Take responsibility for your community.

    If you're not there then who will protect the other guy that was brave enough to ride it or the poor sap that lives there? How do you think these neighborhoods become like this? Abandonment/avoidance by law abiding citizens is how.

    Be a coward and the baddies will come to your neighborhood next, forcing your grandkids out to the boonies where they will die from pollution and obesity. You don't have to be Mother Theresa to stop it, so shame on you if you let it happen.
    Why do neighborhoods become that way? Because law abiding citizens tire of becoming victims, of watching their neighborhoods fall into slums. But the law abiding can't dispense justice on their own, so they move(if they're financially able). What do you suggest people do?

    Hey, I'm all for vigilante justice. Burn down the crack houses. Hunt down the gangbangers. But that's not realistic, and if the police DO increase their presence then the residents of said neighborhoods complain about profiling and police brutality. WTF?
    "When I'm on a bike, it's like I'm 14 again, racing off to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters."

  25. #25
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Don't take any chances. People are mean and will hurt you.
    Nobody with any sense would ride a bike...anywhere.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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