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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 08-30-10, 08:07 PM   #1
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Respect on the road - (some) results are in

After a tumultuous summer of commuting home after midnight (15-20 miles rounder), I decided to experiment with a few nuances of my commute in order to determine if it may be as simple as appearance that causes nitwits to interact negatively with us as commuters.

After being shot at with a blow dart, almost being ridden off the rode on more than occasion, and a significant increase in heckling, it was time to re-evaluate my safety during the wee small hours of the morning.

Typical commuting garb for me in summer is road-wear: Bib shorts, Primal jersey, clipless, and a huge eff-off backpack full of stuff. Each night the ride home (several different options) takes me by a road that leads to the University (blow dart incident), through a residential area (drunks take this route home to avoid cops) or by an intersection/offramp from the Interstate (TGIFriday's, Old Chicago, Hooter's). Heckling has occurred half a dozen times in the summer months from all locations, and consists of derogatory comments about wearing spandex/lycra/whathaveyou.

I decided to change it up a bit and wear my messenger shorts over my bibs, keeping everything else the same for the past month. I don't know what it is, but apparently it has something to with grown [drunken] men feeling threatened by a dude in this garb (every incident involved men, and one woman tagged along for one). The heckling subsided and I have not been the subject of any verbal barbs over this time.

In the interest of keeping my cycling safe, the shorts are now part of the commute, with the bibs being relegated to rides when the sun is up. I know it sounds weird, but that's what it has come to.

Has anyone else changed their commute to minimize the amount of distractions/dangers such as this?
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Old 08-30-10, 08:26 PM   #2
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My bike is illuminated at night but not me aside from some reflective stripes. I'd be surprised that anyone could make out what I was wearing.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:27 PM   #3
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Same here, once real shorts go on over the bike shorts all of the sudden you're not someone worth heckling anymore. I mostly do it because if I happened to break down on the way into work and couldn't fix it myself I wouldn't want to be stuck in lycra while getting rides from co-workers, lots of traffic going by, fixing a flat on the side of the road, etc.
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Old 08-30-10, 11:15 PM   #4
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Same here, once real shorts go on over the bike shorts all of the sudden you're not someone worth heckling anymore. I mostly do it because if I happened to break down on the way into work and couldn't fix it myself I wouldn't want to be stuck in lycra while getting rides from co-workers, lots of traffic going by, fixing a flat on the side of the road, etc.
Yes, this too. And the odd chance that the lycra rips leaving your arse hanging out.
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Old 08-30-10, 11:49 PM   #5
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I pretty much never get **** on the road; occasional too-close passes and heckling once in every several months, but that's about it. I also only wear spandex on the occasional group ride.
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Old 08-31-10, 06:59 AM   #6
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I pretty much never get **** on the road; occasional too-close passes and heckling once in every several months, but that's about it. I also only wear spandex on the occasional group ride.
This was also my experience until this past spring/summer. It has multiplied [relatively] exponentially this season.
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Old 08-31-10, 07:37 AM   #7
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My results are pretty much the same as yours. Over the years I have noticed that I get way less comments spewed at me when I am cycling in shorts/pants vs. a lycra only.
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so what if it's custom, are you suddenly NOT a jackass?
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Old 08-31-10, 07:40 AM   #8
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My experiences are completely contrary to everyone here.
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Old 08-31-10, 07:49 AM   #9
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I don't wear any thing but Carhartts (Carhartt shorts if it is warm) and a t-shirt. Goes without saying I also wear appropriate cold/wet weather gear.
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Old 08-31-10, 08:00 AM   #10
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I commuted for a week with biking shorts, and I rode to work today with just cargo shorts and a t-shirt (my commute's not long enough to get me soaked with sweat). I haven't noticed a difference yet. Maybe it's the helmet and lights.

Maybe if I ride without lights or a helmet, and ride on the wrong side of the road, I'd get the same respect that the other salmon get. Heh.
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Old 08-31-10, 08:11 AM   #11
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I wear spandex and for the most part am left alone. I get the occasional get off the road. If I were to make a change it would be to carry my 9MM in a rear holser OVER my spandex, perhaps with an LED shining down on it.

Seriously though, eff em. I also might not get as much heckling as some since I'm still not down to my goal weight of 195, I'm fairly broad shouldered and still weigh 215, though I'm not sure people pay that much attention.

Joe
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Old 08-31-10, 08:13 AM   #12
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I get hardly any heckling, either way, but I FEEL less heckle-worthy when I wear loose shorts. Commuting I wear them for the pockets and comfort on my train ride.

I think nonbikers see skintight bikewear as pure pretentious foppery when worn outside of a competitive situation.

We know it's somewhat practical, but the bright colors and the revealing nature of the shorts gives the impression that bikers are saying, "Hey, look at me, I'm Ivan-freaking-Basso!" - much like if they were to put on a NASCAR firesuit to drive to work.

I suspect their contempt is similar to what I experience when one of those little Civics with the fart-can exhaust extensions and triple spoilers poots past me.
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Old 08-31-10, 10:03 AM   #13
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I think nonbikers see skintight bikewear as pure pretentious foppery when worn outside of a competitive situation.
I suspect this is pretty close to it. I too wear shorts over spandex, because I need pockets on the train, and I don't want to be observed 'getting dressed' at the bike parking -- might send the wrong signals. Wearing spandex, you stand out as 'different' which is, as we all know, the cardinal sin in American society.

I suspect that if you asked women runners whether they get more or less 'commentary' depending on how they dress for their runs, you'd find a similar story (I don't know -- I'm only guessing).
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Old 08-31-10, 10:59 AM   #14
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I get more comments when in my bibs...but who can blame them, I do have a nice ass.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:08 AM   #15
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I think if you are wearing baggies in the middle of the night that the drunks see you as a kindred spirit.
ie: lost your license in a DUI.
Maybe they will wave or give a head nod.
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Old 08-31-10, 11:25 AM   #16
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I get more comments when in my bibs...but who can blame them, I do have a nice ass.

All the sheep say this!
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Old 08-31-10, 01:02 PM   #17
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I guess I wasn't clear - it's not just a drive-by comment with the heckling, they are considerably more threatening. I have found that these drivers are really paper tigers, and the best way thus far to squelch their noise is to ride over closer to them and give them the Terminator stare. No words need be exchanged as that has lead to bad things. Example, an SUV drove by in broad daylight, and some kid (male) shrieked like a girl really close to me. As they got to the red light that awaited them, I noticed there was a boy driving, a nasty girl in the front seat, and the guilty shrieker in the back seat behind. I told him he screamed like the girl in the front seat, who upon hearing that shouted at me in a voice deeper than Kathleen Turner after a carton of cigs. I told him her voice was deeper than his, at which point they drove away shouting obscenities and throwing garbage at me. What a scene.

Anyway, heckling I can deal with, but the volume of offenses this season is over the top. Glad to hear that apparel seems to do most of the trick, aside from DataJunkie ;-)

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Old 08-31-10, 01:10 PM   #18
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I think nonbikers see skintight bikewear as pure pretentious foppery when worn outside of a competitive situation..
I'm a pretty serious bike rider but I must admit that I sort of see it that way too, in the back of my mind. It doesn't bother me though, anyone can wear what they like, right? I have to wear a uniform at work, so that's what I wear for commuting - very few heckling or rude driving problems. I must admit that I have never tried any bike specific apparel so can't comment on it's comfort etc, but haven't had any real clothing related problems with what I do wear. I should mention that I'm riding home after midnight pretty regularly too.

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I suspect their contempt is similar to what I experience when one of those little Civics with the fart-can exhaust extensions and triple spoilers poots past me.
Contempt is too strong a word but I get a laugh out of those too, cause they remind me of high school when we all had the beater muscle cars with bondo warts all over, loud pipes etc - the more things change the more they stay the same!

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Old 08-31-10, 01:18 PM   #19
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My experiences are completely contrary to everyone here.


Well, i'm sure cycling down the street naked could get you even more blow-darts and hecklers.

Choose your wardrobe carefully:


Apparently DataJunkie is the only person among us who can pull this off!
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Old 08-31-10, 01:19 PM   #20
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ew
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Old 08-31-10, 01:26 PM   #21
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ew
Haha, i'd bet that to many typical people spandex clad looks darn near the same level of "ew" - narcissism aside!

Of course some wearers will attract more attention than others and OP is probably right to suspect his appearance in drawing such negative attention.
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Old 08-31-10, 01:33 PM   #22
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I'm skinny enough to be invisible.
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Old 08-31-10, 02:39 PM   #23
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Choose your wardrobe carefully
WHY????? did you show me that??????

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Example, an SUV drove by in broad daylight, and some kid (male) shrieked like a girl really close to me. As they got to the red light that awaited them, I noticed there was a boy driving, a nasty girl in the front seat, and the guilty shrieker in the back seat behind. I told him he screamed like the girl in the front seat, who upon hearing that shouted at me in a voice deeper than Kathleen Turner after a carton of cigs. I told him her voice was deeper than his, at which point they drove away shouting obscenities and throwing garbage at me. What a scene.
Actually, I think the mistake was confronting them at all. Some people are jerks, why take a chance on escalating an already bad situation with one. It is too easy for that sort of thing to get out of control, theirs and yours. If you have to talk to them, ask them if they've found "Jesus, our one lord and savior." Not only does it create confused guilt, they will never try to talk to a cyclist again.
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Old 08-31-10, 05:24 PM   #24
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WHY????? did you show me that??????



Actually, I think the mistake was confronting them at all. Some people are jerks, why take a chance on escalating an already bad situation with one. It is too easy for that sort of thing to get out of control, theirs and yours. If you have to talk to them, ask them if they've found "Jesus, our one lord and savior." Not only does it create confused guilt, they will never try to talk to a cyclist again.
That was my point. There's no point in even engaging them, and I learned from it. I could have kicked all of their asses with one hand and a frame pump, but the jail and the court costs and the record are just not worth it.
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Old 08-31-10, 05:34 PM   #25
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If you have to talk to them, ask them if they've found "Jesus, our one lord and savior." Not only does it create confused guilt, they will never try to talk to a cyclist again.
That's a good one.
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