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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 01-19-05, 05:36 PM   #1
R600DuraAce
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Commuting and fear.

Do you fear for your life while commuting. Not sure as the weather gets colder and the road condition gets nastier, I begin to fear for my life on my commute, especially at night and the 5pm to 6pm rush hours. Stuff going on my mind like being doored (don't talk to me about vehicular riding since I am riding slower than the traffic). Stupid motorists blocking the bike path while I am trying to beat the lights. Man, do I go through a lot of red lights.
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Old 01-19-05, 05:39 PM   #2
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Get life insurance. I did.
My fear is not that I might get hit. My fear is if I die, how is my family going to survive?

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Old 01-19-05, 06:04 PM   #3
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Get life insurance. I did.
You're in good hands with allstate...
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Old 01-19-05, 06:10 PM   #4
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I'll have to say that I'm pretty fatalistic much of the time. But once in a while I get a little freaked when there's little to no shoulder on the canyon road approaching home at night and I have to depend on a driver or two to slow down a bit and take up a little of the slack. To that end; I light my rear like a christmas tree (one red and two amber flashers). At least I know that if someone runs me down they meant to do it.

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Old 01-19-05, 06:38 PM   #5
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There are stats on the web that say it is safer to be on a bike than in a car. I'm not sure how accurate they are, they don't take into account where you are riding. Still I feel safer riding on Mass. ave in Boston than driving. But then I drive to work on Storrow drive and if you know anything about Boston you'll know that is nasty.
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Old 01-19-05, 07:19 PM   #6
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In Atlanta, I feel safer on the bike than in the car (I never thought I would say that). Down here, when I'm in a car people routinely pull out in front of you, swerve at you, run red lights and crowd you. I have had one close call on my bike in the last six months, and I can't count the number of times that people have gone out of their way to give me extra room. I'll choose two wheels any day of the week.
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Old 01-19-05, 07:27 PM   #7
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Nearly everybody rides slower than the traffic and the techniques behind vehicular cycling make the assumption that you are going slower than the traffic. There is a lot of evidence indicating that this style of riding is the safest.

I ride using VC and do not fear for my life. In fact, I enjoy riding in traffic, by and large.
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Old 01-19-05, 08:13 PM   #8
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I ride in the bike lane and on streets without bike lanes about 50-50, or it might even be less for the bike lanes. I don't fear for my life. It's a delight to ride. I'm probably more likely to die from high cholesterol or from being too fat and lazy if I don't ride.
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Old 01-19-05, 08:41 PM   #9
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I don't particularly fear for my life, but I don't know what your road conditions are like. It sounds like you haven't been commuting very long? I'm getting more comfortable the longer I do it. It may be worthwhile reflecting on the parts that scare you the most (as opposed to just piss you off, like cars in the bike lane) and what you can do to not be as scared. Don't just be scared, do something about it!

First off, you don't say what you have for lights, but it seems like more can never hurt! Also, you might be helped by reading the Safety & Advocacy board (although beware, there be vehicular cyclists!), and maybe even posting questions about the specific circumstances you encounter on your route. They can point you to good resources, such as How Not to Get Hit by Cars.

When you say you go through a lot of red lights, I hope you don't mean that the way it sounds.
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Old 01-19-05, 09:22 PM   #10
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When you gotta go, you gotta go. Whether you're commuting on a bike or commuting on an SUV (that tends to rollover).
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Old 01-19-05, 09:42 PM   #11
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I used to fear, now I don't, so I'm worried. Fear is a good thing, it keeps you in check.
As long as u watch out for doors, remember to fall in if you have to get doored, look for pedestrians, remain aware of cars around you, and remain very visible, you should be fine.
You ride in manhattan right? Around 5-6 pm, you should be moving in traffic, with traffic, as traffic, if not much faster than traffic.
When I first started, I used to get that worried sinking feeling in my stomach before I left everyday. Now I can't wait. I go through a lot of red lights and stop signs too, in fact, all of em. What's the point of waiting. Most cops and cars treat me like a pedestrian when I'm slow and when I'm fast, I'm fast enough to be in traffic and I get right in the lane with my blinding rear light and 27 watts up front, they treat me like a car. It's the best of both worlds. I slow down, check, then run the red or stop.
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Old 01-19-05, 10:17 PM   #12
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I've already been t-boned by a car and it totaled my bike as i rolled across the hood. So ya, i have some fear.
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Old 01-19-05, 11:00 PM   #13
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I have to admit I'm a bit spooked most places I ride. So much so that I limit where and when I'll let my 12 YO boy ride with me. If I was commuting on a regular basis I'd light up the rear of the bike like the 4th of July and proudly have old glory waving for all to see. ALso, I'd buy a HID headlight... expensive but factor in a tank or two of fuel and a couple of oil changes and you've paid for it. One of those bless the troops stickers plastered to our back probably wouldn't hurt either... we can call it bikepsyops.
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Old 01-19-05, 11:34 PM   #14
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Sorry, I just don't buy that you can't practice vehicular cycling because you're slow moving.

Give it a shot, you'll find that it's remarkably effective. Remember that it involves cooperating with other road users where possible and asserting your rights where necessary. Too many cyclists only practice one or the other of these techniques.

I've spent nearly the last week spinning around the streets of Boston in a 61" gear and I haven't had any problems. It Works! [tm]

In any case, if you're going to insist on riding in the door zone, I would seriously recommend that you just stop bicycle commuting. Getting thrown into heavy urban rush hour traffic is a good way to get killed or seriously injured and it will happen to you sooner or later.
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Old 01-20-05, 04:50 AM   #15
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The only condition which really spooks me is riding on a wet road into a bright low winter sun. I get the feeling that drivers coming up behind me are all squinting to cut out the glare and that I'm hardly visible.
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Old 01-20-05, 08:49 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dougmt
One of those bless the troops stickers plastered to our back probably wouldn't hurt either... we can call it bikepsyops.
There was actually a column in the Boston Globe (I think) a while back, where the author tried this sort of thing. He went through several things with no luck, until finally he put a sign on his bike that read "ex-wife took car".
This worked, but his (non-ex) wife was not amused
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Old 01-20-05, 09:12 AM   #17
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I knew a guy that refered to his fiance as his "future ex-wife"! She was not amused either. Sorry, for the hi-jack!
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Old 01-20-05, 09:35 AM   #18
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Any fear I might have is buried under layers of anger. I know I'm riding safely and legally so when that car looks like it's going to left hook me, I hold on tight and think . . . "F you . . . hit me if you want, I don't give a damn"!!! Of course, I haven't been hit for awhile and the memory of pain has faded. Usually, about four weeks after a collision or fall, I am very jumpy.
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Old 01-20-05, 09:46 AM   #19
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I am not fearful of commuting: experience lessens the fear. However, that same experience teaches one to be more vigilant and aware of every hazard, potential hazard and the unexpected than everyone else. It's a gradual process though.
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Old 01-20-05, 10:37 AM   #20
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There's plenty to fear while riding. I guess it's not riding that I fear more.
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Old 01-20-05, 01:52 PM   #21
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I guess that if I was that scared I would take a bus. You don't have to ride a bike if you don't like it! Before giving up, you might want to take some lessons or just ride with someone who is a bit more experienced at riding in traffic and get some pointers. It really doesn't have to be frightening.

That said, I do sometimes find myself in scary situations. You must stay calm enough to think and ride your way out of these situations. Can you change your route or the time that you ride, just temporarily until you get your nerve back?
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Old 01-20-05, 01:54 PM   #22
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One more thought: Do you have a decent bike that you feel comfortable riding? That can make a big difference in your confidence level.
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Old 01-20-05, 03:41 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R600DuraAce
Do you fear for your life while commuting. Not sure as the weather gets colder and the road condition gets nastier, I begin to fear for my life on my commute, especially at night and the 5pm to 6pm rush hours. Stuff going on my mind like being doored (don't talk to me about vehicular riding since I am riding slower than the traffic). Stupid motorists blocking the bike path while I am trying to beat the lights. Man, do I go through a lot of red lights.
See the thread entitled "Freedom From Fear" under Advocacy & Safety.

You misunderstand what is meant by "vehicular cycling" since you say, "don't talk to me about vehicular riding since I am riding slower than the traffic". VC does not require you to ride as fast as traffic. You can ride vehicularly at 15 mph while cars are going 50mph. Do not confuse VC with one of the VC techniques referred to as "taking the lane" (although you can take the lane even when going slower than traffic which forces traffic to slow down for you - typically you only do this when the lane is too narrow, you're preparing for a left turn, you're avoiding an obstacle, etc.).

Again, check out that "Freedom From Fear" thread: Freedom From Fear.

And, of course, pick up the book "Effective Cycling" at amazon.com or perhaps your local library (I recommend owning your own copy unless you're really strapped for cash).

Also, try to take a Road 1 course as soon as you can. See bikeleage.org for more information. In San Diego they are being offered for free for a few months. San Diegans should check out sdcbc.org for more info on that.

Serge

Last edited by Serge Issakov; 01-20-05 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 01-20-05, 04:07 PM   #24
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The results of a new pole are in... One out of one people die. If you're secure in the existance of Heaven, as well as secure in your admission to the place, all is cool. WWW.TOURDEPANTS.COM .
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Old 01-20-05, 04:19 PM   #25
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Be thankful you feel it. Many motorists do not realize the danger they are constantly in. Since you have the advantage, use your fear- Follow the road rules, make yourself as visible as possible to motorists, make yourself completely predictable to everyone, and always stay alert.
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