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Old 03-31-09, 07:20 PM   #1
Eric04
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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?
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Old 03-31-09, 07:23 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 03-31-09, 07:29 PM   #3
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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)
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Old 03-31-09, 07:43 PM   #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.
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Old 03-31-09, 07:46 PM   #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.
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Old 03-31-09, 07:46 PM   #6
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Act and dress like you belong, mind your own business, pay attention, avoid confrontations, you'll be fine.
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Old 03-31-09, 07:50 PM   #7
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If I don't feel safe riding somewhere, I drive. No big deal.
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Old 03-31-09, 07:53 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 03-31-09, 07:56 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 03-31-09, 08:15 PM   #10
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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.
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Old 03-31-09, 08:54 PM   #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.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:17 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:30 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:31 PM   #14
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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.
+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.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:42 PM   #15
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Those are some relatively busy roads. So long as you use common sense, you're fine.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:54 PM   #16
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Treat people with respect, live and let live. You'll be OK.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:56 PM   #17
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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.
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Old 03-31-09, 09:58 PM   #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.
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Old 03-31-09, 10:20 PM   #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.
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Old 03-31-09, 10:28 PM   #20
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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.
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Old 03-31-09, 10:30 PM   #21
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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.
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Old 03-31-09, 11:12 PM   #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.
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Old 03-31-09, 11:59 PM   #23
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lol @ "rough areas" in san diego
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Old 04-01-09, 05:25 AM   #24
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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?
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Old 04-01-09, 06:03 AM   #25
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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.
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