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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 01-17-05, 04:13 PM   #1
snoop
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Getting back on the horse

I am new to this forum and think it's amazing!

My question is "How do you get over the fear of commuting in heavy, seemingly apathetic traffic?"

I recently moved from Portland,OR to Kansas City. In the NW I got rid of my vehicle and rode my bike everywhere, of course this was made easier and safer by the prevelant bike lanes and presence of so many like minded induviduals. Motorist HAD to make way for bikes and were much more informed about sharing the roads.

Moving to KC has all but squashed my commuting. I now own a car , and have entertained the idea of picking up commuting to work again since I only work 8 miles away, but I can't get myself to get over the fear of a couple dangerous intersections and strips of road that are unaviodable.

Basically, Portland spoiled me and now I have become soft. What is the best way to confront this and proceed. One advantage that I have is a flexible work schedule, and may just need to travel after or before rush hour.

Just looking for some advice. Thanks!
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Old 01-17-05, 04:34 PM   #2
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You can do it! Avoid rush hour and work on alternative routes: even if it adds a couple miles to you ride. Don't be afraid id walking your bike through the rough spots! Believe me, I know how intimidating it can be, I used to commute crosstown to the 'burbs in Cleveland! Don't give up!
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Old 01-17-05, 04:35 PM   #3
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Start by traveling outside rush hour. Get a feel for the route on weekends so that you have it dialed in. Study those intersections and understand what's really dangerous about them and what's just scary. Be alert when you pass through there, keeping an eye out for the things you identified as risks.

Are there any alternate routes? Maybe they add a mile or two but they might be less stressful.

Otherwise if it's really doable I expect doing it a handful of times will help make it more routine. I used to have a commute that involved climbing an on-ramp to a nearly blind merge into an elevated highway and moving across the right 2 lanes of traffic to get to the straight-ahead lane. After doing it a few times it stopped being terrible (I won't lie and say that it was truly pleasant but it wasn't bad).
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Old 01-17-05, 04:36 PM   #4
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Use yahoo maps or something and TRY to find a different route even if it is longer. I wasn't happy with some of my commute and didn't think there was another way but i found a MUCH better way. Much safer and much more enjoyable because of it. It's just way more roundabout. I went from a 9.8 mile commute to about 11.25 miles.
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Old 01-17-05, 04:37 PM   #5
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Oh yeah, and see what people recommend for bike maps. If you're lucky you can find one that will even mark out suggested streets so you can try to build a route that involves these recommended ways.
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Old 01-17-05, 06:40 PM   #6
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I agree with Lala. I turn left at a very bad intersection, and if the timing isn't "just right" for me to get over to the turn lane, I go through the intersection to the little "island" on the other side, stop and turn my bike to the left, and wait for that light to turn green. If I go through one that's totally insane, I can always get off and walk it in the crosswalk. While you're waiting for the lights, you can get a drink or munch a snack bar.
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Old 01-17-05, 07:12 PM   #7
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I'm just a newcomer to these forums and to many of these safety concepts (my "Senior Member" title is just 'cause I've shot my mouth off so much since joining a month ago), and have only been bicycle commuting for 2-1/2 years, so I may be presumptious to suggest this to you, but have you read up on vehicular cycling or effective cycling? It sounds like it may be more appropriate for where you are now than where you came from. One site that has been useful to me is Bicycle Safe. It may also be helpful to cross-post your question on the Safety & Advocacy board. The other suggestions here are great too and I don't need to repeat them, but I would think that reading what others have to say, who are more experienced in cycling in traffic w/o bike lanes, should enable you to actually be safer, and hopefully feel safer too.
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Old 01-19-05, 10:45 PM   #8
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Some good advice in the above posts.

Cars like to take the shortest route, so the path less traveled is usually a good bet. I used to shun the Pacific Coast Highway in Torrance for a slightly longer, but much nicer route through Palos Verdes. The president of the company I worked for at the time was a cyclist, lived in Palos Verdes and enjoyed racing me to work. Ha! I did well at that company!

Back to the thread...I will always vet a new course in my car first, just to check it out.
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Old 01-20-05, 02:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snoop
In the NW I got rid of my vehicle and rode my bike everywhere, of course this was made easier and safer by the prevelant bike lanes and presence of so many like minded induviduals. Motorist HAD to make way for bikes and were much more informed about sharing the roads.
It may not always seem like it, but motorists in your new city also HAVE to make way for bikes. They certainly do NOT want to hit you! (Despite what you read here sometimes--and I admit I can get paranoid at times, too.) I really try to worry less about the cars and more about what I am doing. You've had experience, so I bet some of your fear is related to apprehensions about just being in a new environment. I wouldn't be surprised if you feel better about bike commuting after just a couple days.
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Old 01-20-05, 04:51 PM   #10
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-- I bike commuted when I lived in Los Angeles County and somehow managed to find routes that were safe. Amazing how many alternate routes I found through alleys, parking lots, side streets, etc. Just as water manages to seep through invisible cracks in a rock, so bicyclists manage to find a route through a (seemingly) dense city.
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Old 01-20-05, 07:55 PM   #11
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The suggestion to look for a bike route map is a winner: I commuted in Portland, OR from 1980-1984 when there were no bike lanes but after a year of riding on dangerous arterials a co-worker told me about the bike route map that was available for just a phone call. Most of my regular routes were marked as "Most Dangerous" & I was amazed to see how much safer commuting got when I followed the green lines. Only a few blocks made a huge difference in safety. Don
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