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  1. #1
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    Nervous in traffic

    Hey everyone.

    For the past 2 weeks or so I have been severely nervous in traffic. I almost got hit a couple of weeks because my front light died just as I was getting to a freeway on/off ramp area that I have to cross on my commute. A guy didn't see me and ended up slamming on his horn right as I passed him. He was stopped waiting to turn right from the offramp I cross. The whole incident has me just as nervous as can be. That and lately people seem to be passing VERY close to me lately, some of them even seeming to do it on purpose, as they go back into their lane further after they pass me.

    Its gotten to the point where this morning there was a semi behind me, and because the road was so narrow where I happened to be right then, he could not pass. I went into the gutter so that he could pass, and I almost ate it.

    I guess I've been riding with a certain amount of cockiness in that "I'm a cyclist, I have rights, if you don't like it get off the road" but lately its been more like "Hey I'm just a guy on a bike, please don't kill me with your vehicle" and the riding scared to go with it.

    Can anyone offer advice?

  2. #2
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    riding in high speed traffic is VERY scary if the road doesn't suit being on a bike. heck, it's scary anyway. can you change your route at all? get away from the big trucks at least?

  3. #3
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    I'm actually more comfortable in NYC heavy traffic with cars around me cause I keep the same speed. In light fast traffic, I get cars that blow by at 50 on a CITY STREET, its crazy.
    To be anything but scared when a 2 ton piece of metal is hurling at you is foolish.
    Take the lane when you need to and just be as aware as you can, get a mirror too. And hang a cateye blinker off your left handle bar. Some cars don't mean to pass me at night so close but they don't know how wide I am. The blinker gives them a perspective.

  4. #4
    Long Live Long Rides
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    rykoala, I know the feeling. I ride in heavy traffic almost every day. Cars DO get close and I also get nervous. There are a couple of things I think about that make it a little better for me. A friend told me '...always ride as if you are invisible. Also, be predictable." To cure the feeling of being invisible, I ride with my blinker on AND my headlight on in the daytime during heavy traffic. Also, I put some reflective tape in a couple of stratigic places on my bike. I KNOW they see me. Heck, I look like a moving Christmas tree! It's just a matter of how close they want to get. Being predictable makes the driver a little more comfortable about passing. Believe it or not, the driver is just as nervous about having to pass you as you are about them! For some reason, they think you are going to decide to fall right when they get next to you. Then, after they bump you, they just know you are going to sue the crap out of them! I've asked a few 'non cyclist' drivers and this is what they tell me. Make sure you can be seen, and be predictable. The nervousness may be a little less. Timmhaan has a good point, too. Look for different routes. It may take longer but a quality ride is what it's all about, isn't it?
    Jharte
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  5. #5
    Long Live Long Rides
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    Slvoid, you made an excellent point about the blinker off the left shoulder. I forgot I hang a couple of reflective ankle staps off my rear panniers for that exact reason. Cars can see how wide my rig is. Good point.
    Jharte
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  6. #6
    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help guys. I can really see where this is more of a common thing than I thought. I am altering my route I guess, taking some back roads that are definitely slower but it'll be worth it.

    I need to work on my nighttime visibility, too.

  7. #7
    Member obscenesimian's Avatar
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    I used to Live in Reno and commuted from the university to Vista boulevard in Sparks at night 3 days a week. I'm familiar with the town, maybe I can help you if you let me know your route.

  8. #8
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    Your safety supercedes their conveneince. NEVER put yourself into the gutter. Take the entire lane.

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    Senior Member rykoala's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great responses. I feel better already. I just need to get out and ride.

    To obscenesimian:
    My route takes me from York and Pyramid either down Rock to Longley, and down longley, or the alternate way is Pyramid to Nugget Ave, to McCarren, then to Mira Loma and over to Longley. Its slightly longer but I don't care. Less congested traffic.

  10. #10
    Zen Cyclist jslopez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rykoala
    Thanks for the great responses. I feel better already. I just need to get out and ride.

    To obscenesimian:
    My route takes me from York and Pyramid either down Rock to Longley, and down longley, or the alternate way is Pyramid to Nugget Ave, to McCarren, then to Mira Loma and over to Longley. Its slightly longer but I don't care. Less congested traffic.
    Think of it as extra excercise/training. I've been commuting for the last 8 months and there are certain roads where you couldn't pay me to ride.

    Generally on commuting (as I've taught my wife recently to ride and ride to work) predictibly is really key. To further explain, I always tell my wife to establish her line early (instead of going in and out from when cars are parked). for stops/stop signs, try to establish eye contact, or wave and it's always best if you get a wave thru before proceeding. This wil not always happen but at least you've made sure for that particular incident what your intentions are.
    ZEN CYCLIST once again...

  11. #11
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    Hey, I know the feeling. I have been commuting for the past month and have had a couple of close enough calls. I have two sections of my commute that require me to take at least some of a narrow lane. one is a two lane country road and people seem to be in such a hurry that they would rather hit me and knock me into the ditch than wait the few minutes it takes for oncoming traffice to pass. Whenever I know someone is behind me I swing further into the lane just to make sure they don't try to pass me. I hope that doesn't backfire and cause me to really get hit. The speed limit on that road is 45 and I am on it for about .8 of a mile.

    Another part of my commute takes me over the interstate on a two lane bridge with no shoulder. I swing in behind whatever traffic is waiting at the light and take the entire lane for myself, I do however expedite my crossing so at least they know I'm not slacking. If the people that get behind me are in a hurry they just have to wait! PERIOD! I am not going to get knocked off the overpass 15 feet onto the freeway by someone trying to pass me on that bridge! The only person that has ever done anything was a couple of high school kids in a pickup swereved and yelled at me once I got across but no biggie, I know who he is and if I have more problems, a visit to his parents should end that situation.

    Hope you find a safer route to work!

    Rob
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  12. #12
    Member obscenesimian's Avatar
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    Hey, I have little to say, but I would probably avoid McCarran where it crosses the 80. If I recall it really sucks there. Ride where you have a route with slower traffic, unless the shoulder is good. McCarran can be good in some spots, but getting across the 80 is the real challenge. BTW, get your meat at the butcher boy in sparks, unless of course you are a vegetarian. I will be in Reno, the weekend of the 23rd to attend a wedding, maybe I'll check out your route and give you my recommendations then, right now I'm not remembering the traffic patterns too well. I really miss Reno, but one day soon I will move back.

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    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jharte
    Slvoid, you made an excellent point about the blinker off the left shoulder. I forgot I hang a couple of reflective ankle staps off my rear panniers for that exact reason. Cars can see how wide my rig is. Good point.
    Look in running stores for ankle straps. I have the thin ones from Performance, but saw some arm bands in a running catalog that looked about an inch wide.

  14. #14
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Your safety supercedes their conveneince. NEVER put yourself into the gutter. Take the entire lane.
    Ditto.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rykoala
    Thanks for the great responses. I feel better already. I just need to get out and ride.

    To obscenesimian:
    My route takes me from York and Pyramid either down Rock to Longley, and down longley, or the alternate way is Pyramid to Nugget Ave, to McCarren, then to Mira Loma and over to Longley. Its slightly longer but I don't care. Less congested traffic.
    For the rear blinkie; http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/reallite/. This should make you seen from behind. It's my next purchase.
    My suggestion for the front: it sounds like you use batteries. Are they AA's? If so, you can get some NiMH rechargeables and a charger for them. I have two sets of batteries. This way, you can use one set while the other charges up. If you want, get one set and charge them every night. The NiMH batteries don't ahve a memory, and last longer. They have lasted just as long in my Cateye EL-300 as Duracells. With a set of fully charge NiMH batteries, you won't have to worry about them running out partway through the commute. The initial cost is higher, but over a couple of years will be a fraction of the cost of regular batteries.

  16. #16
    xyz
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Your safety supercedes their conveneince. NEVER put yourself into the gutter. Take the entire lane.

    Is that really so bad? On one job I commuted to I rode 5 miles in the gutter everyday, I never had a problem. Here in New Orleans there are no gutters, shoulders, bike lanes, walk/don't walk lights, or nice people. The curbes are 30 degrees so I ride on those sometimes, most of the time(one the main roads) I hit the sidewalks. The city is full of canels with few bridges so for longer rides it's not possible to take back roads, and the main routes are packed all day. I laugh at those who say always ride on the roads, I issue a challange to come here and try that. The first three months I was here I tried, I lost track of the times I almost got nailed. Right turn only lanes everywhere(24/7 drinking). One main road next to my house has these sewer grates that stick up 3 inches above the rest of the road, I found that out that the hard way. Did I mention the people here are *ssh*l*s. This place is so messed up most intersections don't even have left turn lanes, you have to go thru the light, make a u-turn, then turn right.
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  17. #17
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    Is that really so bad? On one job I commuted to I rode 5 miles in the gutter everyday, I never had a problem. Here in New Orleans there are no gutters, shoulders, bike lanes, walk/don't walk lights, or nice people.
    The question is whether you trust any of those "unnice people" to allow you enough space when they're passing you. I don't have this faith in the drivers I deal with everyday, so I'm obliged to make that decision for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    The curbes are 30 degrees so I ride on those sometimes, most of the time(one the main roads) I hit the sidewalks. The city is full of canels with few bridges so for longer rides it's not possible to take back roads, and the main routes are packed all day. I laugh at those who say always ride on the roads, I issue a challange to come here and try that. The first three months I was here I tried, I lost track of the times I almost got nailed.
    A miss, no matter how near, is still a miss, and better than the alternative.

    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    Right turn only lanes everywhere(24/7 drinking). One main road next to my house has these sewer grates that stick up 3 inches above the rest of the road, I found that out that the hard way. Did I mention the people here are *ssh*l*s. This place is so messed up most intersections don't even have left turn lanes, you have to go thru the light, make a u-turn, then turn right.
    Again, put yourself right out in the centre of the lane. If the lane isn't wide enough to share, then be greedy. If the grates make the gutter a hazard, put yourself in the lane where the grates are not.

    As I've said on many occasions previously, if I'd tried riding in the gutter, I would have been killed years ago.
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  18. #18
    xyz
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    The question is whether you trust any of those "unnice people" to allow you enough space when they're passing you. I don't have this faith in the drivers I deal with everyday, so I'm obliged to make that decision for them.


    That's why I rode in the gutter, I didn;t trust them.



    A miss, no matter how near, is still a miss, and better than the alternative.


    Well, yeah.



    Again, put yourself right out in the centre of the lane. If the lane isn't wide enough to share, then be greedy. If the grates make the gutter a hazard, put yourself in the lane where the grates are not.

    As I've said on many occasions previously, if I'd tried riding in the gutter, I would have been killed years ago.


    This was in Boise, Idaho. Not that big of a city, but with three levels(benches), a river in the middle, and a freeway. Not as bad as New Orleans, but almost. So many choke points means packed main roads. If I took a lane that would mean blocking traffic for 5 miles. If I did that enough times someone would just run me down and say "oh, I didn't see him". There is no getting in the left lane, bumper to bumper. People there love to drive by, open the door and slam it, just as they drive by to see if they make you crash. I am convinced that a large number of biking deaths are murders, it's just to hard to prove.
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  19. #19
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    That's why I rode in the gutter, I didn;t trust them.
    I see a bit of a conflict in your post here. You say that you ride in the gutter because you don't trust them, and you say that you suspect a number of them are trying to hit you (below), yet you say you have to ride in an area that leaves you with no space at all to take any evasive action. This is actually why I avoid riding in the gutter. If I need to swerve to avoid some debris I can't do it without space.

    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    This was in Boise, Idaho. Not that big of a city, but with three levels(benches), a river in the middle, and a freeway. Not as bad as New Orleans, but almost. So many choke points means packed main roads. If I took a lane that would mean blocking traffic for 5 miles. If I did that enough times someone would just run me down and say "oh, I didn't see him".
    You'd be surprised just how rarely that happens. You see, people don't just suddenly snap and decide to kill someone -- it just doesn't happen. Most of the anger anyone ever feels is generated from within the person. To put it in simple terms, if they're the sort of person who wants to kill someone (which is very rare), they'll do it anyway.

    You see, I've actually been physically attacked by drivers and pedestrians alike in the past. I've had drivers deliberately aim their cars at me and step on the gas (although fortunately, none of them were very subtle about it). None of them happened when I was claiming the lane. What can we conclude about their state of mind from this? Certainly, their anger can't have been caused by me claiming the lane because that wasn't happening at the time -- so what was the cause? And what caused it to be enough that they actually wanted to commit murder over it?

    I've given up trying to guess what effect my actions have on other people. It's just too uncertain. You can only get an idea by actually asking them, and if they're in a fit of rage that's an uncertain indication at best. Maybe they're just in a bad mood, maybe not. Either way, I'm not going to let it change the way I ride, and prevent me from riding in the manner that I know to be the safest.


    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    People there love to drive by, open the door and slam it, just as they drive by to see if they make you crash. I am convinced that a large number of biking deaths are murders, it's just to hard to prove.
    If they're trying to belt you with an open door, you're just making yourself a sitting duck by staying in the gutter. However, I'd be calling the cops over such behaviour.

    Actually, despite the amount of press they get, biking deaths aren't all that common. Especially by comparison with a lot of other activities. It's funny how the media never report on rides that pass by without a hitch of any kind at all, much like mine today actually. As far as being murders, yeah, it's possible, but if someone really wants to kill you, they'll just do it. Riding in the gutter won't stop them. In fact, getting off the bike completely won't stop them either.
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  20. #20
    xyz
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    I see a bit of a conflict in your post here. You say that you ride in the gutter because you don't trust them, and you say that you suspect a number of them are trying to hit you (below), yet you say you have to ride in an area that leaves you with no space at all to take any evasive action. This is actually why I avoid riding in the gutter. If I need to swerve to avoid some debris I can't do it without space.

    Avoiding stuff in the gutter is a whole different subject from taking evasive action when someone is trying to hit you. The former is easy to avoid, just look ahead while riding, although brain farts will happen. One time, when I was out of shape, after riding up a steep hill, I rode into a parked car. If it's a choice between swerving into the road or riding thru some junk, I will ride thru the junk and take the flat.



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    [color=red]You'd be surprised just how rarely that happens. You see, people don't just suddenly snap and decide to kill someone -- it just doesn't happen.


    Just because it's rare does not mean it doesn't happen. Even if it's rare there could still be large numbers killed this way. It's the biggest reason I don't like driving, the anger. Someone slows you down just a few seconds and you get so pissed.




    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    If they're trying to belt you with an open door, you're just making yourself a sitting duck by staying in the gutter. However, I'd be calling the cops over such behaviour. ]



    And tell them what? Someone, don't know who, did something that caused no harm? But they are not trying to hit you. They are making a big noise right as they drive by in the hope they will spook you and make you crash. I've never had this happen anywhere other than Boise so it may just be a local redneck thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    [Actually, despite the amount of press they get, biking deaths aren't all that common. Especially by comparison with a lot of other activities. It's funny how the media never report on rides that pass by without a hitch of any kind at all, much like mine today actually. As far as being murders, yeah, it's possible, but if someone really wants to kill you, they'll just do it. Riding in the gutter won't stop them. In fact, getting off the bike completely won't stop them either.

    Yeah, I understand that. And it only takes a few thousand miles before you get a feel for all the different things that are the biggest danger. I think that early part of the learning curve is where the biggest risk is. My roomate just started riding and had his first right hook, tore up his knee pretty good. I've never crashed for that one, even though I've had it happen many times. Now it's just burned into brain to watch for that, but as I said, brain farts happen.
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  21. #21
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    Avoiding stuff in the gutter is a whole different subject from taking evasive action when someone is trying to hit you. The former is easy to avoid, just look ahead while riding, although brain farts will happen. One time, when I was out of shape, after riding up a steep hill, I rode into a parked car. If it's a choice between swerving into the road or riding thru some junk, I will ride thru the junk and take the flat.
    The point is, it doesn't have to be that choice. If you're already on the road you don't need to swerve anywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    Just because it's rare does not mean it doesn't happen. Even if it's rare there could still be large numbers killed this way. It's the biggest reason I don't like driving, the anger. Someone slows you down just a few seconds and you get so pissed.
    Again, that mental state comes from within. It is in no way caused by the external factors. People get "pissed" at different things for different reasons, why do you suppose that is? It's because that angst comes from within. As I've said before, if someone wants to kill you, they'll do it (or at least try to) anyway. Take it from someone who has experience in dealing with it.

    As far as "there could be large numbers killed this way", that is exactly my point, there aren't. To suggest that it's 0.0001% of drivers who behave in this manner is overestimating it by several degrees of magnitude. As I said in another thread, if all the cyclists currently cowering in fear in the gutter or on the bike path took the road, it would be even rarer. Again, this is something I do everyday, and in the city that has the national reputation for having this country's worst drivers. If it was even half as dangerous as many people (usually those who have never tried it) make out, I wouldn't be here typing this.

    The fact is, every moment of our lives is a calculated risk, being it riding in the gutter, driving, watching TV, anything. Nothing is perfectly safe -- we just have to decide where the odds are the best, and that is not in the gutter.


    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    Yeah, I understand that. And it only takes a few thousand miles before you get a feel for all the different things that are the biggest danger. I think that early part of the learning curve is where the biggest risk is. My roomate just started riding and had his first right hook, tore up his knee pretty good. I've never crashed for that one, even though I've had it happen many times. Now it's just burned into brain to watch for that, but as I said, brain farts happen.
    The thing is, right hooks (or left hooks in this part of the world) are usually preventable. Again, if you act like a vehicle on the road you'll generally be treated like one. If you act like a pedestrian on wheels, that is how you'll be treated. The question is, which do you prefer?

    Alright, I'm going to bed.
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    xyz
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    [color=red]The point is, it doesn't have to be that choice. If you're already on the road you don't need to swerve anywhere.

    Then you take the risk of someone nailing you from behind, or changing lanes because there is no car in the spot you are in. If someone is going to do this you are helpless. In the gutter it is very easy to avoid the crud, if you have to you can stop and walk around it. I am not saying you should not ride in the road, I just find it easier to deal with the gutter. But this only applies to those bumper to bumper situations, in lighter traffic I have no problem riding in the road.



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    Again, that mental state comes from within. It is in no way caused by the external factors.



    I am just going by what I have experienced. Driving puts me in a rage. But I don't like people much. I have spent years in the fast food trenches. I hate people. I hate listening to them, seeing them, and dealing with them. They are morons. They piss me off. They are also stupid. I have no trouble seeing one of these people doing something in the heat of the moment, something they think is no big deal, and killing someone. They just don't understand the forces they are dealing with. They don't understand the speeds, the dangers, the odds, nothing. They are in "control" of something far beyond they feeble minds ability to control.



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    People get "pissed" at different things for different reasons, why do you suppose that is? It's because that angst comes from within.


    What difference will that make if you are dead? The source of this anger is irrevelant. Modern society is frusterating. You are not allowed to do anything you want and everywhere you go there are 10,000 people in line ahead of you. Grrr....



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    As far as "there could be large numbers killed this way", that is exactly my point, there aren't.


    Bad wording. I meant that a large percentage of biking deaths were murder. Not that I can back that up, just something I think is true.



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    and in the city that has the national reputation for having this country's worst drivers..

    As long as thing are so bad there would you mind if all us other countries sent all our worst drivers there? It would help us out a lot.



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    The fact is, every moment of our lives is a calculated risk, being it riding in the gutter, driving, watching TV, anything. Nothing is perfectly safe -- we just have to decide where the odds are the best, and that is not in the gutter.


    I never had any problems in the gutter. I don't know what the odds would be, I doubt it would be possible to have a study about such a thing. A couple of times I've had delivery trucks come close, those big mirrors that stick out would have smacked me in the back of the head if I had been in the road. I just had that happen a couple of weeks ago. The roads here in New Orleans are very tight. This one road I ride on for a few blocks every two weeks when I go to cash my paycheck is very narrow with high traffic(hospital nearby). I ride on the sidewalk, after I crossed the road I rode on the street for a few feet. I normally don't even do that so it made me a bit nervous so I jumped on the sidewalk, a few seconds later that truck with the big mirrors drove by. There was no room for him to move over, if i had stayed in the street I would have been wishing(if I could) I had worn that helmet. Sometimes asserting your rights will get you killed.



    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    [color=red]The thing is, right hooks (or left hooks in this part of the world) are usually preventable. Again, if you act like a vehicle on the road you'll generally be treated like one. If you act like a pedestrian on wheels, that is how you'll be treated. The question is, which do you prefer?..


    I prefer to live. If that means I sometimes act like a pedestrian on wheels then so be it.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyz
    A couple of times I've had delivery trucks come close, those big mirrors that stick out would have smacked me in the back of the head if I had been in the road.
    The more lane you claim, the more space cars will give you. If you're claiming a whole lane, there's little risk of getting clipped by a mirror, since cars have to move into the other lane to pass -- and even if they do cut it close, you have plenty of room to move over. Same goes for cars changing lanes into your space -- if you're in the middle of the lane, you can move over to avoid them.

    Taking the lane and acting like a car puts you in control. Riding in the gutter gets you less respect from cars, and gives you very few options if you do run into trouble.

  24. #24
    cab horn
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    You can actually debate with a guy with 'xyz' as a username? Wow.

  25. #25
    Senior Member westman2003's Avatar
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    "You can actually debate with a guy with 'xyz' as a username? Wow."

    I don't think it is that hard to do.
    Westman

    "Peace, Love, Eternal Grooviness.."

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