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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 11-13-13, 11:38 AM   #26
droy45
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Sure glad you are ok and not seriously injured. Thanks for posting to remind all of us. The other night I was going along and a car pulled up to the roadway and the driver looked right at me and stopped as I passed by he or she moved forward and scared the daylights out of me. I could have very well been hit at that moment but my momentum kept me out of harms way. There is absolutely nothing that can be done to avoid a driver doing that to us. Its not that they intentionally try to hit us but their natural reaction is to step on it if there are no cars coming. Peds and Bikers are never given thought to. This happened to my wife the other day. She was the driver pulling up to a major roadway with a pedestrian walkway along it. She looked both ways and when no more cars were coming she proceeded and a pedestrian magically appeared in front of her. She never saw him walking or just totally missed him and she was able to hit the brakes just in time. I think crossing in front of a vehicle is dangerous in all cases.
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Old 11-13-13, 11:58 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by peliot View Post
I think what happens in cases like this is not that cars don't see us, but that most drivers register bikes as pedestrians and assume they are moving very slowly. I have seen a lot of cases where drivers clearly saw a cyclist but then cut in front of him, or pulled out directly in his path, because they just can't comprehend that a bike is moving the same speed as a car. So, rather than a Doctrine of Presumed Invisibility, I ride under the Doctrine of Presumed Tortoise-ness. It has saved me from numerous stupid drivers.
Actually the issue has little to do with speed, and the same kind of things often happen to motorcyclists. This accident is common enough that motorcyclists give it a name - SMIDSY or Sorry mate, I didn't see you. IMO the attached video is required viewing for anyone riding on two wheels on public roads.

There's also the issue of human vision and perception when we scan. Essentially, when scanning the brain doesn't see a continuum, but a series of discrete images that it stitches together to form the illusion of a constant moving scan. Bicyclists present a narrow enough profile that we can fall between the images, so when they're stitched together we're not there.

Some time ago, a Brit produced a good video that demonstrated how and why we fall between the cracks of human perception. I'd link to it, except that I lost the source and haven't been able to find it. If anyone here knows of it or can find it, I'll give them a free bottle of Chain-L if they post the link.

Understanding that even very conscientious drivers may not see us is critical to riding safely. Don't assume you're seen, do what's necessary to be sure you're seen.
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Old 11-13-13, 12:00 PM   #28
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I hope you're alright. Bike lanes make me hypervigilant, but not all accidents can be avoided.


I almost got hit a couple of weeks ago. I had to cross over the mouth of an off ramp at night and despite my lights, somebody in a little car came up behind me out of nowhere, driving WAY too fast for that road merger, and didn't notice me until the last minute, despite that I was right in front of them with lights a-blinking. One minute the ramp was clear, the next there was a little car flying down the ramp, trying to not have to yield or merge with the other cars on the road. I don't know how the car missed me, I was too busy listening to the chattering of anti-lock brakes, the only thing going through my head was "don't hit me, don't hit me, don't hit me, don't hit me. I'm not sure how close it was, but I could see headlight lenses out of the corner of both eyes.
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Old 11-13-13, 12:07 PM   #29
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I assume she pulled in from the right? A similar thing happened to me a few weeks ago, although she just barely tapped me so there was no damage. I'm glad you're okay and that the bike is fixable.

Ride as if you're invisible, and pull farther into the lane when you see a car approaching from a side street. Most drivers aren't checking the shoulder/bike lane. By being in the lane you get into the driver's line of sight and give yourself a bit more room to maneuver if needed.
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Old 11-13-13, 01:03 PM   #30
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Compared with what?
Riding a motorcycle fer example, by a large margin.

I've got 250,000 miles on motorcycles, generally without a helmet.

Last edited by Sharpshin; 11-13-13 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 11-13-13, 01:40 PM   #31
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Get a Police report? you need that for the court case for the PL&PD contingency Lawyers.
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Old 11-13-13, 01:52 PM   #32
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I was driving through northwest DC yesterday at pre-dawn to pick up a set of 27" wheels, and was surprised by the number of bicyclists going about their daily [early] commutes. They were numerous, as I drove through commuting arteries and neighborhood streets in the NW.

On the ride back to work on the VA side (of the Potomac River), I heard that a bicyclist had been struck in DC, and that the accident scene was stopping/diverting traffic. I hear about this once every two weeks or so during my drive in to work...

That said, I can't accept the constraint of riding on MUPs "for safety". MUPs have their share of problems - and at best are boring connections between more interesting riding locales. I will accept the risk of fatal accident for the freedom to ride wherever I want on my bike. As others have said in this thread, one must assume that the driver doesn't see you, and be cautious when in traffic.
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Old 11-13-13, 02:06 PM   #33
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Get a Police report? you need that for the court case for the PL&PD contingency Lawyers.
Why do we always talk about lawyers and suits.

The OP reports only minor bruising, and the driver has agreed to pay for the damage to the bike. This doesn't sound like somehing likely to be litigated in any way.

Of course, a good record, and preservation of evidence is important in any accident with serious injury or expensive disputed property damage. But for most of the everyday bumps and scrapes no litigation will happen, and it's more a question of informally negotiating compensation for bike damage.
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Old 11-13-13, 02:22 PM   #34
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Why do we always talk about lawyers and suits.
its the way the little guy talks to their 'betters' in America.

Its how corporations settle differences, too.

some lingering injurys seem minimal at the time ,



"shake it off, Kid" may be different, in a country
not run for the benefit of health insurance companies

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Old 11-13-13, 03:10 PM   #35
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I may have misspoke when I characterized commuting as "incredibly dangerous." It was shocking how quick things went south though, and I was trying to convey that. Perhaps I should have said "can be incredibly dangerous." To be fair I've been doing this for 20 years and this is only my third time hitting the pavement, and the first involving another vehicle. I think Lance Armstrong said once that he's in at least a half dozen vehicle/bike collisions a year.

As I get older that sense of invulnerability is starting to wear off!
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Old 11-14-13, 03:35 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Actually the issue has little to do with speed, and the same kind of things often happen to motorcyclists. This accident is common enough that motorcyclists give it a name - SMIDSY or Sorry mate, I didn't see you. IMO the attached video is required viewing for anyone riding on two wheels on public roads.
I went and watched the SMISDY video, very interesting, thanks. (Some impatient people might want to jump to about 4:30 to see the cure rather than just the diagnosis)

I hope somebody claims that bottle of Chain-L, because I'd like to see the other video as well!
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Old 11-14-13, 06:29 PM   #37
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Actually the issue has little to do with speed, and the same kind of things often happen to motorcyclists. This accident is common enough that motorcyclists give it a name - SMIDSY or Sorry mate, I didn't see you. IMO the attached video is required viewing for anyone riding on two wheels on public roads.

There's also the issue of human vision and perception when we scan. Essentially, when scanning the brain doesn't see a continuum, but a series of discrete images that it stitches together to form the illusion of a constant moving scan. Bicyclists present a narrow enough profile that we can fall between the images, so when they're stitched together we're not there.

Some time ago, a Brit produced a good video that demonstrated how and why we fall between the cracks of human perception. I'd link to it, except that I lost the source and haven't been able to find it. If anyone here knows of it or can find it, I'll give them a free bottle of Chain-L if they post the link.

Understanding that even very conscientious drivers may not see us is critical to riding safely. Don't assume you're seen, do what's necessary to be sure you're seen.
Hmm, this one?


I've always gotten a kick out of this one as well:
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Old 11-14-13, 06:35 PM   #38
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Also, glad you're alright, jdriver -- I had a couple of close calls while driving today, thanks of course to some idiots driving in front of and behind me. Gotta be vigilant, no matter what you're doing on the road.
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Old 11-14-13, 07:01 PM   #39
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Glad you feel like your okay. Hope you get your bike back on the road quickly. Try not let it get into your head and get the best of you. Take away from it what you can use as a learning experience and carry on. Let's all try & be safe!
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Old 11-15-13, 07:37 AM   #40
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I know most cyclists prefer to ride on streets / roads but these stories just prove riding on streets are dangerous regardless of how much or how many safety accessories you are riding with. I bought my 1st road bike two months ago and I'm still hesitant to ride in my neighborhood streets, let alone city roads. Right now, I only ride on MUPs and lucky it's 21 miles long so I can still get some decent rides in.
Riding on the sidewalks are at least as dangerous. I know, I used to ride almost always on the sidewalks. Had more close calls that way. Nowadays my commute is mostly bike lane.

No matter how you travel on a bike there is an element of chance involved. We don't really know if drivers see us or not. Our best defense is situational awareness. Even then nothing is 100%. It's been a long time but I've been hit more than once.

Most of us can't us a MUP to commute. Even when I can I run into interesting situations. The following are night time situations I have run into on the MUP, parents letting their toddlers wonder all over the path with no supervision, fishermen sitting on one side of the path with their line going across the path into the canal, people letting their dogs run loose, joggers and other bikers swerving into your path just as you are passing, the MUP crossing major street with no crosswalks signals or other method of crossing.
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Old 11-15-13, 11:08 AM   #41
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Thanks for the kind words everyone. I plan on being back on the bike as soon as it gets back from the shop
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Old 11-15-13, 11:20 AM   #42
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You are correct! Only it isn't the looking... or seeing. It is a human memory malfunction. This is a built-in function as how our human brains work.
When a motorist "looks" down a street their brains segregate all of the information into two broad categories: Moving, and not moving.

Many motorist's brains categorize bicycles as "not moving" objects. So she looks right at you with her eyes and "sees" you but the sensory perceptions reaching the brain get misfiled - her brain lumps you into the category with mail boxes, fire hydrants, and trash cans.

Your speed and position on the roadway/path are extremely important. If you are not approaching 20 mph, you look like you are not moving as you near a motorist. Also, the farther away you are from their position, the faster you appear to be going i.e., up against the curb = slow, up against the double yellow line in the road center = fast.

If you are a slower cyclist riding up against the curb like a rat in the gutter you will probably get run over a lot by crossing traffic, driveway exits, etc. You assume the position of a "non-moving" object and your position at the curb puts you mere inches from danger. If you were far left, against the double yellow line (on an otherwise traffic free road) the crossing motorist would have to f-up for 18 feet instead of 18 inches - giving you plenty of time to realize "SHE AIN'T SEEIN' ME!" and either stop, speed up, otherwise bail out before resorting to going under the wheels.

A bright flashing white light up front will help bridge the gap between seeing and understanding in the driver's head. "Is that a bike, cop, or ambulance?" They literally freeze in their tracks until the brain sorts out the information correctly.

Glad you survived. Scary story.

Last edited by JoeyBike; 11-15-13 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 11-15-13, 04:10 PM   #43
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When a motorist "looks" down a street their brains segregate all of the information into two broad categories: Moving, and not moving.
Many motorist's brains categorize bicycles as "not moving" objects. So she looks right at you with her eyes and "sees" you but the sensory perceptions reaching the brain get misfiled - her brain lumps you into the category with mail boxes, fire hydrants, and trash cans.
True! But it doesn't explain how come even other cars are discarded from memory as well. Recent studies have shown that the short term memory is dropping for many people. Previously around 7 seconds... now short term memory is often only 5 seconds. I cover a lot of distance on my bicycle in 2 seconds.... let alone 5-7 seconds.

Then after 5 seconds (or 7).... there is NO memory that you were ever seen. No motorist (or cyclist) can react to something they don't know/remember is there.

Sure flashing strobes, funny helmets, bouquets of brightly colored balloons.... all will help get you into long term memory... but only once or twice (maybe a few times). But then those attention getters fade into the background.
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Old 11-16-13, 12:56 PM   #44
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My condolences. I'm glad you're safe. This is what I call a lesson from God. You've been politely warned not to trust even direct eye contact by a motorist. Never assume. God taught me the same lesson as a young man of 18 and I hope to always remember it. I was going down a hill and saw a woman pulling her car out of a parking lot in front of me. She stopped and looked at me. I was confident she would wait and I proceeded on down the hill. Right before I passed in front of her she pulled right out and I slammed into the side of her car.

Lucky for for me I was launched right over the hood of her car and tumbled forward on the road with just a few bruises. My bike was much worse off than me.

She did see me. And she was not malicious. I'm firmly convinced that motorists often don't appreciate your speed. If you're going 25 miles an hour they might think they can pull out before you get there and be "dead" (God forbid) wrong.
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Old 11-16-13, 01:38 PM   #45
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Glad your ok and your are absolutely right, don't assume anyone sees you that include pedestrians, your life is in your hands make good decisions and our chances of survival riding and commuting increase.

I had a woman this week pass me going into a school zone, then stop fast the doors fly open and kids jump out of both front and back seats, luckily I was able to stop and not hit the kids.
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Old 11-16-13, 04:48 PM   #46
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Riding a motorcycle fer example, by a large margin.

I've got 250,000 miles on motorcycles, generally without a helmet.
My first serious motorcycle accident was my last. I probably had less than 1000 miles on the bike (my first... and only). I had stopped feeling nervous out there on the superslab and was really starting to enjoy myself. When I low sided it, I was going about 55mph. I had been going the speed limit of 70 to beat the car to my right that was keeping me from my exit. He finally backed off and I swung in to the exit, hot and hard on the brakes. The ground was sandy and boom | was down. The bike hit the guardrail with another boom but I slid right under it. I cartwheeled and slid for an 1/8 of a mile or more, before all that kinetic energy was dissipated. It was July but I was wearing heavy jeans over heavy cotton clothing. Everything was shredded and the skin on my hips, and elbows was abraded down to the bone. I was wearing a full face helmet and the fiberglass off both sides of it was worn down right to the energy absorbing material underneath. I didn't break a single bone. The only reason I didn't ride again was because I could never again afford a bike like the one I had bought. Back in those days you didn't finance bikes. Cars maybe, but bikes were still mainly cash purchases. So... after a trip to the moon's worth of mileage you know a lot of things I never had time to learn about keeping a bike upright. You're pretty sure of yourself out there. You're on your way back from the moon, but you aren't home safe yet. My next door neighbor has a daughter whose husband dropped a bike. It's been 5 years and he will never get any better. Picture someone who is four times over the legal limit of alchohol. That's this guy. All the time. Forever. His wife hasn't left him. He is just about with it enough to wonder why not and to know that its got to be hard for her to go on living with him the way he is now, every day. A helmet is the least you can do to minimize the worst of a mistake out there... or plain bad luck. In 2013 there just is no excuse. When I got on a bike there wasn't anything like body armor, back protectors and I just have to think helmets have undergone some additional R&D in 40 years. 200 words to the wise is sufficient.

H
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Old 11-16-13, 05:22 PM   #47
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I just have to think helmets have undergone some additional R&D in 40 years.
What makes you think this "additional R&D" has been reflected in improved protection for cyclists? I suspect many more dollars and resources have gone into helmet marketing and fashion design.
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Old 11-16-13, 08:39 PM   #48
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What makes you think this "additional R&D" has been reflected in improved protection for cyclists? I suspect many more dollars and resources have gone into helmet marketing and fashion design.
??? I was talking about motorcycle helmets...
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Old 11-17-13, 12:10 AM   #49
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??? I was talking about motorcycle helmets...
Oops, sorry. I thought this was a bicycling commute list.
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Old 11-17-13, 12:42 AM   #50
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Oops, sorry. I thought this was a bicycling commute list.
No worries, everyone @#%#'s up every now and then, why should you be any different...
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