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Old 05-14-14, 02:26 AM   #1
KingstonWheels
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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!
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Old 05-14-14, 03:03 AM   #2
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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
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Old 05-14-14, 03:13 AM   #3
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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
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Old 05-14-14, 04:32 AM   #4
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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
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!
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Old 05-14-14, 04:39 AM   #5
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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

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!
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Old 05-14-14, 04:41 AM   #6
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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.
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Old 05-14-14, 05:03 AM   #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!
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Old 05-14-14, 06:32 AM   #8
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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!
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.
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Old 05-14-14, 06:36 AM   #9
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the buses are just too large for the streets ... not that i'm advocating for the cyclist


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Old 05-14-14, 06:59 AM   #10
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the buses are just too large for the streets ... not that i'm advocating for the cyclist

Now that was a really close shave!

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Old 05-14-14, 07:28 AM   #11
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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
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Old 05-14-14, 07:33 AM   #12
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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.
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Old 05-14-14, 09:37 AM   #13
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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!
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Old 05-14-14, 09:45 AM   #14
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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!
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Old 05-14-14, 09:48 AM   #15
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the buses are just too large for the streets ... not that i'm advocating for the cyclist
What an idiot (he is not you!)!!!!
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Old 05-14-14, 09:48 AM   #16
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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.
Yes, I am contemplating - I left at 6pm so maybe half an hour later it wont be so busy......
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Old 05-14-14, 09:49 AM   #17
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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
Good planning!
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Old 05-14-14, 10:12 AM   #18
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I assume that everyone is trying to hit me.
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Old 05-14-14, 10:28 AM   #19
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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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