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  1. #1
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    Any tips for dealing with heavy traffic?

    I ride in London - my ride in is a lot faster as I set off early and avoid the peak period but going home I hit a lot more traffic and this slows me more than is necessary due to my fear of a couple of narrow cycle lanes I encounter. I really struggle with the narrower cycle lanes when there is heavy/stationary traffic right next door. I think in part that is due to my handlebars being way too wide for the bike (which I am having shortened during a service next week) but I still think after that is done I will have this anxiety about passing so close to cars. Any (helpful) tips/thoughts on how to tackle this fear and to improve my ride. Is it just going to happen in time with more miles on the clock? I envy all those who cycle past and through these narrow lanes ahead of me and feel pretty stupid I can't get my head around it!

  2. #2
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    I would stay aware.

    There's been a fair number of cyclists getting crunched by trucks in London ... especially when the cyclist is abreast to the cargo.

    I really wish London would ban heavy traffic between 9am and 6pm like most major European cities, but alas, I am expecting too much out of the Brits
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Two major tips from a decades-long, year-round commuter in Boston:
    • Rearview mirror

    • Like a ***. assume every stopped car is loaded, with an occupant (on either side) ready to exit.

    === is a weapon that shoots bullets or shells
    Last edited by Jim from Boston; 05-14-14 at 03:20 AM. Reason: Explain the censored word

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    I would stay aware.

    There's been a fair number of cyclists getting crunched by trucks in London ... especially when the cyclist is abreast to the cargo.

    I really wish London would ban heavy traffic between 9am and 6pm like most major European cities, but alas, I am expecting too much out of the Brits
    Really good points - I am very aware of buses and big trucks! In fact in heavy traffic I feel safer, because I can cycle in a defensive, in lane position. Its having to go up narrow cycle lanes to the left of heavy traffic that worries me! And yes, I have seen a car open its door on a rider ahead of me, fortunately he was a commercial one with a box on the front and so it didnt knock him off but if I had been going at a resonable clip it would have been me as he had just overtaken me!

    As for banning heavy traffic - I think that should happen between 7am and 10am and 4pm and 7pm every single weekday - it would make so much of a difference to the roads here!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
    Two major tips from a decades-long, year-round commuter in Boston:
    • Rearview mirror
    • Like a ***. assume every stopped car is loaded, with an occupant (on either side) ready to exit.

    === is a weapon that shoots bullets or shells

    Not been riding long and seen it already! car stopped (at green light!) and opened door directly onto cycle lane, the guy had a commercial cycle with a box on the front so he didn't fall and told the passenger off - she looked cross with him though! Extraordinary!

  6. #6
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingstonWheels View Post
    I ride in London - my ride in is a lot faster as I set off early and avoid the peak period but going home I hit a lot more traffic and this slows me more than is necessary due to my fear of a couple of narrow cycle lanes I encounter. I really struggle with the narrower cycle lanes when there is heavy/stationary traffic right next door. I think in part that is due to my handlebars being way too wide for the bike (which I am having shortened during a service next week) but I still think after that is done I will have this anxiety about passing so close to cars. Any (helpful) tips/thoughts on how to tackle this fear and to improve my ride. Is it just going to happen in time with more miles on the clock? I envy all those who cycle past and through these narrow lanes ahead of me and feel pretty stupid I can't get my head around it!
    I try and avoid riding on London's streets at rush hour because the traffic is just so heavy it's not funny. Obviously that's not an option for you, so if the cycle lanes are too narrow for you to feel comfortable just merge back into the traffic and wait your turn. There's no obligation to use the cycle lanes and if nobody is going anywhere fast it just means you wait a bit longer.

    It's far from rare when I'm out riding in traffic that I'll see a space and decide it's too small for me to be comfortable with, only for someone to whizz past me through the space and get further forward. At first that bothered me, I felt like I'd somehow failed for not realising the space was big enough. But it's not a race, it's not like gaining a couple of car lengths makes such a big difference, and I'd rather stay back and be happy with what I'm doing than go through a space and find it wasn't big enough. If you go through a very small space and wobble a bit you could end up either damaging someone's car with your handlebars or getting damaged yourself if they pull away and don't stay sufficiently straight. Even if it's entirely their fault, a court agrees it was their fault and you get compensation, that doesn't make your injuries go away.

    Then of course I noticed the number of people who will weave through a tiny space because they really couldn't care less if they scrape someone's car, force others to take evasive action to avoid them, run red lights without even slowing etc. Only the other day I encountered some numbskull who appeared determined that I wasn't going to overtake him. Every time I got close he stood on the pedals and hammered to pull ahead. I wasn't interested in racing, I was trying to hold as steady a speed as I could. As I was gaining on him approaching some traffic lights they turned amber so I slowed ready to stop. He slowed ready to stop, then suddenly stood on the pedals and gunned it through the red light, weaving around the traffic that was emerging from the side road and narrowly missing being run over. If someone like that gets ahead of you, often you're better off just letting them go. I certainly have no interest in being a knucklehead just to try and keep up with someone else.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  7. #7
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    When things get too hectic, I just place my bike on the bicycle rack attached to the front of the bus, and I pay my due fare thru traffic!

  8. #8
    Senior Member andyprough's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    When things get too hectic, I just place my bike on the bicycle rack attached to the front of the bus, and I pay my due fare thru traffic!
    I agree with WestPablo.

    Also, you could learn a lesson from us old mountain-bikers: if a route is scaring you, put on some protective gear and your fears will likely go away. There's tons of compact, light-weight gear available on mountain-bike websites that will protect your elbows and knees or any other part of your body you are particularly concerned about. Most of the modern stuff is incredibly breathable too, and small enough you could stuff in the bottom of a backpack for those easier routes.

    And lights - lots of lights and reflective gear front and back, day and night for a situation like that. And a good mirror.

  9. #9
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    the buses are just too large for the streets ... not that i'm advocating for the cyclist

    Last edited by acidfast7; 05-14-14 at 06:41 AM.
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    the buses are just too large for the streets ... not that i'm advocating for the cyclist

    Now that was a really close shave!
    Last edited by WestPablo; 05-14-14 at 07:02 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    Rule one, assume no one can see you and assume they will open a door or turn into your path.

    Rule two, mentaly & visually keep a map of your path and focus on that while staying aware of your surroundings and changes ahead of you.

    Rule three, be visible. Stay in the mirror whenever possible so people can see you especially with large vehicles.

    Rule 4, be prepared for weather.

    Rule 5, HAVE FUN!

    - Andy
    I can't wait for the next pint of good chocolate milk after a long ride.

  12. #12
    Senior Member locolobo13's Avatar
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    This may not work for you but; I wait around work for another 15 min before taking off. Traffic is still relatively heavy but it is quite a bit lighter than if I left at 5:00. I'm just wondering if you could find a similar break by adjusting your take off time a few minutes? Just a thought.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    It's far from rare when I'm out riding in traffic that I'll see a space and decide it's too small for me to be comfortable with, only for someone to whizz past me through the space and get further forward. At first that bothered me, I felt like I'd somehow failed for not realising the space was big enough.
    Yes that is how I feel now and I have tried to push on to gain confidence but I just wobble which is bad for me and bad for the motorists (and presumably the cyclists behind no doubt laughing or cursing me! Hehehe - yep I will stick to going in the road and holding position. Thanks - great answer!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyprough View Post
    And lights - lots of lights and reflective gear front and back, day and night for a situation like that. And a good mirror.
    All great advice thanks!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    the buses are just too large for the streets ... not that i'm advocating for the cyclist
    What an idiot (he is not you!)!!!!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by locolobo13 View Post
    This may not work for you but; I wait around work for another 15 min before taking off. Traffic is still relatively heavy but it is quite a bit lighter than if I left at 5:00. I'm just wondering if you could find a similar break by adjusting your take off time a few minutes? Just a thought.
    Yes, I am contemplating - I left at 6pm so maybe half an hour later it wont be so busy......

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TransitBiker View Post
    Rule one, assume no one can see you and assume they will open a door or turn into your path.

    Rule two, mentaly & visually keep a map of your path and focus on that while staying aware of your surroundings and changes ahead of you.

    Rule three, be visible. Stay in the mirror whenever possible so people can see you especially with large vehicles.

    Rule 4, be prepared for weather.

    Rule 5, HAVE FUN!

    - Andy
    Good planning!

  18. #18
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    I assume that everyone is trying to hit me.

  19. #19
    Senior Member cellery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by locolobo13 View Post
    I wait around work for another 15 min before taking off. Traffic is still relatively heavy but it is quite a bit lighter than if I left at 5:00.
    This. Adjust 10-15 minutes before or after your regular departure time and watch the traffic islands dwindle. Only other advice is to plan ahead for a 15-30 minute longer ride and adopt a safer yet longer route if one exists.
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