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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 07-16-12, 09:23 PM   #1
redeyedtreefr0g
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Is it normal...

...to feel that driving a car is weird or unsafe after you commute by bike for a while?

I spent nearly the entire school year either driving a bus or a bicycle. The few times I was finally able to take the car to work again in rainy weather, it was a completely bizarre experience.

Being used to the bus, I felt too low in the car, and being so low, I felt like I should be going slowly like I was on the bike.

There was a claustrophobic effect because it seemed like I was boxed in by the other cars: I couldn't see around them, or over them, and my own car blocked a lot of my view around me with only tiny mirrors on the sides (instead of the 6 I'm used to, or being able to just look around on my bike).

Traffic lights were mildly more annoying for some reason.

The car turned oddly because I had no tactile feedback from handlebars, and no 40ft behind me- the short back end of the car felt like it was sliding or something.

I just wondered if anyone else experienced something similar, although perhaps not as drastic. I love my bike, and driving the bus, but I really sort of disliked my trip in the car. Riding as a passenger is still normal.
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Old 07-16-12, 09:46 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by redeyedtreefr0g View Post
...to feel that driving a car is weird or unsafe after you commute by bike for a while?

I spent nearly the entire school year either driving a bus or a bicycle. The few times I was finally able to take the car to work again in rainy weather, it was a completely bizarre experience.

Being used to the bus, I felt too low in the car, and being so low, I felt like I should be going slowly like I was on the bike.

There was a claustrophobic effect because it seemed like I was boxed in by the other cars: I couldn't see around them, or over them, and my own car blocked a lot of my view around me with only tiny mirrors on the sides (instead of the 6 I'm used to, or being able to just look around on my bike).

Traffic lights were mildly more annoying for some reason.

The car turned oddly because I had no tactile feedback from handlebars, and no 40ft behind me- the short back end of the car felt like it was sliding or something.

I just wondered if anyone else experienced something similar, although perhaps not as drastic. I love my bike, and driving the bus, but I really sort of disliked my trip in the car. Riding as a passenger is still normal.
I'm behind the wheel of a car enough that it doesn't feel weird to me though I might go days without driving. It's probably a mix of what you're used to and personal preference. I'd be scared that I'd take someone out with the back of a bus while rounding a corner if I were to drive one, but I like driving small sporty cars (when I do drive). My wife is different and likes to sit up high, - like in a minivan (yuck).
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Old 07-16-12, 10:23 PM   #3
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I noticed after taking a couple months off from driving that I felt like I was going way too fast in a car. In the saddle, one has time to take in all of the surroundings - sights, smells, sounds. In a car it all flies by so much faster that it takes some adjustment for sure.
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Old 07-16-12, 10:29 PM   #4
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Were you actually driving a bus or riding the bus, because driving a bus is nothing like driving car and it would totally be weird going from a bike to a bus. Sometimes I drive all week, other times I ride all week. I don't notice anything weird or unusual in the transition.
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Old 07-16-12, 10:44 PM   #5
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Going from a bike to a car (as in just after a ride) fells odd to me. It's the different sitting position, height, and handling. After I get home, if I get back in the car it feels normal. I think it's just the change from one to another.
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Old 07-16-12, 10:52 PM   #6
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Were you actually driving a bus or riding the bus, because driving a bus is nothing like driving car and it would totally be weird going from a bike to a bus. Sometimes I drive all week, other times I ride all week. I don't notice anything weird or unusual in the transition.
The OP drives a school bus.
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Old 07-17-12, 10:41 AM   #7
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OP: Your post reminds me of my college days, when I drove for the university's transit system (35 ft. transit buses) and rode a bike to get everywhere else. I would go months between times for driving a car.

Did it feel weird to get behind the wheel of a car? a little, but I remember adapting pretty quickly. When I finally got a car, my senior year of college, the entire transition effect went away. I experienced something similar when I rode a motorcycle 95% of the time - switching to the car always felt weird (slow, clunky, enclosed). I don't recall the claustrophobic effect, but I do remember the feeling of being too low and not being able to see.

Honestly, though, my hardest ever transition was when I got used to driving light duty military vehicles in Haiti. The return to driving in the US was freakish (lane discipline, signalized/controlled intersections, real roads, folks not immediately yielding to my CUCV or HMMWV...)
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Old 07-18-12, 07:13 AM   #8
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I don't know if it feels weird, but cars are definitely a pain in the butt in town. The other drivers, parking, walking,negotiating busy gas stations, waiting for pedestrians, getting in, getting out, I only do it once or twice a week and can't stand it.
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Old 07-18-12, 11:04 AM   #9
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I have the same immediate weird feeling when driving a car for the first time after riding the bicycle to work for many consecutive days, especially the increased annoyance at traffic lights.

The sensation that going 25 mph in the car is too fast for conditions goes away after a little driving, when my expectations get re-set to being a car driver again.

The annoyance with traffic lights seems to linger. Part of that I think is because when I am riding, a red traffic light may delay me slightly in reaching the destination, but commuting is not a race, and the red light can be a chance to get a short breather, perhaps a drink of water if I have time, and let the legs rest a bit. In a car, a red light means just more delay and burnt expensive poisonous fuel chemicals, there is no resting benefit. I haven't driven enough in the car since I started bicycle commuting to see if that sensation gets re-set to 'normal' for car driving after a while. Also, frustration with idling at traffic lights is one of the 20 or so great reasons why I like biking to work so much better than driving anyways, so the pre-existing annoyance with red lights is probably amplified now that I know transportation can be done better than by car.
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