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Old 06-23-09, 10:52 AM   #1
duke_of_hazard
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Is medium traffic safer than low traffic?

In my 6000 miles of always taking the lane commuting, I notice riding in medium traffic is safer than low traffic. In low traffic, you get the prankster types. People see an isolated cyclist and think it is a great opportunity to do something dangerous with no witnesses. In medium traffic, one is far less likely to be bothered by this type since there are so many others around to take away their anonymity.

What do other's observe? Sure, you will get more honks in medium traffic, but Ill take a million honks over one person who tries to throw something at me or intentionally run me off the road.
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Old 06-23-09, 10:57 AM   #2
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People are generally a bit more attentive when the traffic is heavier. Well...some wouldn't notice you if you had a flashing neon sign strapped to your back.

Eh, it's a horse a piece if you ask me.
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Old 06-23-09, 11:05 AM   #3
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The heavier the traffic the better off i feel. Firstly, people, as you noted, are less likely to do something stupid. Secondly, they are moving slower. Im not going to get steamrolled at 50, just 20. Ill take every bit of help I can get.
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Old 06-23-09, 11:10 AM   #4
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I prefer low traffic. However, I will ride in just about any traffic if I do not have an alternative.
No issues with pranksters in either traffic level.
At least in low traffic I can bend the traffic rules to suit my situation.
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Old 06-23-09, 11:11 AM   #5
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In heavier traffic, I tend to lane split which likely makes riding more dangerous. Never encountered "pranksters".
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Old 06-23-09, 11:18 AM   #6
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My route takes me around the downtown core - the first leg is along a fairly low-traffic road West of downtown in the "warehouse/industrial" zone. my main concern here is the homeless folks - most of whom are harmless - I do get the occasional agressive stare and slight move towards me, which I avoild by giving plenty of space.
My next leg takes me along a major East-West boulevard, south of the Downtown core, that heads directly to the university. It is a pretty heavily traveled road with a designated bicycle lane. I feel very comfortable here, and have had no issues SO FAR.

Once in the university district my favored route takes me on low-traffic, quiet residential streets for the majority of my ride home. Because of the nature of the streets, most of the traffic is local residents, so they are probably less likely to do anything malicious.

So my take is that lower traffic urban zones might pose a higher risk of random pranks or confrontation, but residential areas are probably safer (unless there is high gang activity, etc in the neighborhood), when compared to medium traffic volume roads.
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Old 06-23-09, 11:42 AM   #7
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Funny you should ask this question today. My route to work starts at 4:30 am. Virually no traffic. Scares me to death. This morning I pulled up to a car (the only car) at a stop light. When the light turned green, the car just sat. As I pulled around I noticed the person driving was sound asleep! What do you suppose my fear was all the way to work????

I also like medium to heavy traffic as far as safety goes. It seems if one car makes a wide pass to go around, the ones behind do the same. And I agree, less chance of someone doing something mean just to be mean.

I do love my morning rides, though. Nice clean air, dark of night, peaceful. Hard to beat.

Jerry H.
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Old 06-23-09, 11:52 AM   #8
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It seems if one car makes a wide pass to go around, the ones behind do the same.
That is a good observation I had not considered. When cars see others cars changing lanes , they all follow suit. But when there is no precedent they just rely on their own judgment which could be to buzz you even though adjacent lane is all clear. That happened to me yesterday late evening..
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Old 06-23-09, 11:57 AM   #9
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If a group of cars overtakes me, they tend to pass closer with each successive car.
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Old 06-23-09, 11:57 AM   #10
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had a nice ride Sunday morning before anyone in my house got up - I forgot how nice bicycling but not commuting is

oh, and there was no traffic

you may have a point though
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Old 06-23-09, 11:58 AM   #11
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I prefer heavy traffic here in L.A. The heavier the better because that means they'll be creeping along at my speed or slower than me. When there's no traffic, people drive 40+ mph on just about any road here regardless of speed limit and they always pass as close as possible regardless of lane position. I can be smack in the middle of the lane with an open lane next to me and they'll still get as close as they can...
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Old 06-23-09, 12:06 PM   #12
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Oh yes. Gridlock is amusing to ride in.
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Old 06-23-09, 12:10 PM   #13
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Hey Datajunkie - what happened to your hottie avatar?
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Old 06-23-09, 05:55 PM   #14
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If a group of cars overtakes me, they tend to pass closer with each successive car.
Yep that has happened to me too. But what's worse is some of them will drive as close to the curb as possible just before traffic lights change to red. They trying to prevent me from passing , while they'er sitting and idling.
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Old 06-23-09, 06:16 PM   #15
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"Prankster" is a nice word for a psychopath.
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Old 06-23-09, 07:30 PM   #16
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I prefer heavy traffic here in L.A. The heavier the better because that means they'll be creeping along at my speed or slower than me. When there's no traffic, people drive 40+ mph on just about any road here regardless of speed limit and they always pass as close as possible regardless of lane position. I can be smack in the middle of the lane with an open lane next to me and they'll still get as close as they can...
3 times this morning some idiot drivers 1/2 merged to my lane, from their lane, to get in front of me. WTF!!

Also, have you been noticing how more and more people are trying to sneak left turns right when lights turn green? In just the last couple of weeks I almost collided with a couple of these morons. What's going on in LA?
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Old 06-23-09, 07:31 PM   #17
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Yep that has happened to me too. But what's worse is some of them will drive as close to the curb as possible just before traffic lights change to red. They trying to prevent me from passing , while they'er sitting and idling.
pass on the left
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Old 06-23-09, 07:33 PM   #18
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Hey Datajunkie - what happened to your hottie avatar?
One of my friends is the team leader for Team Type 2. They are currently competing in RAAM at the moment. Just showin' some support.
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Old 06-23-09, 09:17 PM   #19
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Yep that has happened to me too. But what's worse is some of them will drive as close to the curb as possible just before traffic lights change to red. They trying to prevent me from passing , while they'er sitting and idling.
This morning I had some guy in a contracting pickup with a trailer gun it by me and swerve into the right lane as I was slowing approaching a red light. Then he just sits there. He's not turning. There are three lanes in each direction.

I want to make a legal right turn on red. He wanted to prevent this, for some reason.

At least on the bike I can just squeeze by and make the turn. In my car I have to sit there four minutes while nothing happens, so I can watch him peel away to the next red light, 300 feet up the road.
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Old 06-24-09, 05:34 AM   #20
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Interesting observation Duke of Hazard. I agree with you that when there is less trafic their tends to be more pranksters. I also agree with Jharte's point that cars tend to play follow the leader. If one car gives you a wide lane when they pass the others follow suit. I've also had the opposite happen, but it usually takes place at red lights when cars love to hug the shoulder trying to prevent me from overtaking them to turn right.
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Old 06-24-09, 05:52 AM   #21
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I have no choice in the matter. My daily commute to work and back is always in heavy rush hour downtown traffic. I only ride 10-15 mins in it each way. It doesn't really make any difference to me as I just keep riding. The only time I see moderate traffic is on the weekends early in the morning.
I do agree with the comment about it being more dangerous riding at times when the streets are somewhat empty...especially at night.
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Old 06-24-09, 09:21 AM   #22
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Also, have you been noticing how more and more people are trying to sneak left turns right when lights turn green? In just the last couple of weeks I almost collided with a couple of these morons. What's going on in LA?
There obviously must have been a recent influx of Bostonians then.

But on topic, I think heavier traffic is slightly more predictable (and slower) with fewer opportunities for the 'psychopaths' to do something really stupid (try as they might). But lighter traffic sure makes lane changes much easier.
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Old 06-24-09, 09:53 AM   #23
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Sometimes I wonder. This morning I was on a quiet residential street. I was getting ready to make a left-hand turn, so I was more or less right on the centerline of the street, and some bozo in a car tries to pass me on the left by cutting into the lane that oncoming traffic would be using. He figures it out and stops and then starts blowing his horn like it's my fault that he is an idiot.
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Old 06-24-09, 10:43 AM   #24
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I like medium traffuc because it generally means the traffic is going at a speed that I'm comfortable going at.
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Old 06-24-09, 11:08 AM   #25
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What do other's observe? Sure, you will get more honks in medium traffic, but Ill take a million honks over one person who tries to throw something at me or intentionally run me off the road.
Actually, "medium traffic" is what I don't like. Probably because I've not encountered the "prankster" type you describe.

Heavy traffic is OK, because I'm faster than cars (splitting lane), low traffic is OK because I'm slower than cars (and they have lots of space), "medium traffic" is where it's getting dicey. As you said "you get more honks in medium traffic" - and that's been my experience; drivers seem more likely to pass me close under these conditions.

Others may know more though.
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