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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 05-15-14, 04:44 PM   #26
genesplitter
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I can confirm that both JoeyBike and ItsJustMe idea's work extremely well. I also experimented one degree more by towing an empty Burley kid trailer. Cars would occasionally honk at me and drive wayyyy over to the left. Those drivers seemed upset that they were passing with extreme caution, in the same way that they would pass a drunk driver on a busy freeway with extreme caution. When JoeyBike said cars will literally drive into oncoming traffic and force those cars into the ditch just to give you plenty of space he was not exaggerating. This made me a bit sad because most cars passed me safely, it was just the few careless/dangerous drivers that I wanted to force a change in behavior.

I currently use ItsJustMe's idea, but I use one of those plastic orange ChuckIt tennis ball throwers for dogs. I mount it horizontally on my rear rack and it sticks out about 1 inch past my left hand (if you were to sight a line while standing behind my bicycle). I plan to replace it with the orange triangle safely flag that came with my Burley kid trailer. The flag has a fiberglass pole and is pointy at its tip and the pole is very bouncy. I plan to have it stick out 3 inches past my left hand and the flag will bounce like crazy as I pedal. I expect that the careless minivan drivers on their cell phones won't dare risk scratching their paint, as they definitely don't care about passing me in a safe manner.

One thought - if a car hit you and you had a child seat or kid trailer, what would the reaction of the police officer be when he sees your damaged bike laying on the side of the road?

Last edited by genesplitter; 05-15-14 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 05-15-14, 04:51 PM   #27
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Use the flag as a lance & charge the unruly motorist?

- Andy
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Old 05-15-14, 05:20 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Dzrtrat View Post
My .02..... if you feel your original route is no longer safe take the extra 3 miles through the school zones...leave early enough to accommodate. if your safer on the other side of the road then use it.I can't count how many times i had to get off my bike to walk up a hill, because it kicked my ars, there's no shame in it... your on a bike using one less car.
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Old 05-15-14, 05:45 PM   #29
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Hi all:

I've been cycling for 30+ years, commuting off-and-on for the last 7. In the last year or so, one part of my route to work has seen a significant increase in traffic. Unfortunately, there is a twisty, narrow, uphill stretch that is particularly bad now. The speed limit is 35mph, but cars routinely do 50mph or so (I can do about 10). I got buzzed on my last commute so closely that it's really got me afraid to keep doing this. I've got a headlight, a blinky, high-vis clothing, etc. I've traditionally ridden AFRAP. But recently I tried taking the lane. That is even worse, because the cars pass anyway, even with oncoming traffic (I do take the lane in other, less busy scenarios, like blind hills, and it works well nearly always)....

Here is a street view of the uphill portion. You can see how narrow the shoulder is:

Approximately, how long is this road?
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Old 05-15-14, 05:55 PM   #30
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Couple of items I have considered, but not sure if they would help or hurt.

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Old 05-15-14, 06:04 PM   #31
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I've generally been avoiding roads where there wasn't a shoulder for me to ride on but there are some great ideas in this thread. I do have a Burley trailer for my son so I could always pull it along even if my son wasn't with me and I'm sure I'd probably get more clearance. I have some Serfas Thunderbolts and a Radbot 1000 on the back to help draw attention to it.
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Old 05-16-14, 06:12 AM   #32
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I agree. There are some great ideas here. I really appreciate all the input. Keep 'em coming!

I intended to test out walking the hill today, since it is National Bike to Work Day. But, I've been sick for the past couple of days. How ironic.
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Old 05-16-14, 09:28 AM   #33
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Is there a bike advocacy organization in your area? It might be worth talking with someone there. Some of our local bike advocacy groups work with the Safe Routes to School program to create safe bike paths and routes to school so kids can bike to school. If the schools are so crowded with car traffic in your area, it may be worth advocating for this. I recently attended a public hearing in my area on some planned cycling infrastructure changes, and many of the attendees were kids, parents, teachers and school administrators complaining about car traffic around the schools and advocating strongly for safe bike routes to and from several local schools.
Build & Sustain a Program | National Center for Safe Routes to School
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Old 05-16-14, 02:55 PM   #34
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Couple of items I have considered, but not sure if they would help or hurt.

A writer several years ago did a little experiment to see how motorists reacted to different phrases on the back of his bike. Some were rude, some funny and some cleaver. He found the most successful phrase was, "Ex-wife got the car."
People gave him a wide berth, they nodded and waved at him.
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Old 05-16-14, 04:01 PM   #35
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That's funny! I had seen one a while back that was either upside down or backwards lettering that said "Do you see me now" I wish they came in tank tops, as I refuse to wear at T-Shirt in S. Fl heat and humidity while biking.

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A writer several years ago did a little experiment to see how motorists reacted to different phrases on the back of his bike. Some were rude, some funny and some cleaver. He found the most successful phrase was, "Ex-wife got the car."
People gave him a wide berth, they nodded and waved at him.
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Old 05-16-14, 08:15 PM   #36
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That's funny! I had seen one a while back that was either upside down or backwards lettering that said "Do you see me now" I wish they came in tank tops, as I refuse to wear at T-Shirt in S. Fl heat and humidity while biking.
Scissors will fix that problem.
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Old 05-16-14, 09:17 PM   #37
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Scissors will fix that problem.
Or a fabric cutter with guide, the kind they use to actually make precise cuts.....

- Andy
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Old 05-16-14, 10:07 PM   #38
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Trailer and Slow vehicle sign work really well.
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Old 05-16-14, 10:11 PM   #39
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Or a fabric cutter with guide, the kind they use to actually make precise cuts.....

- Andy
Or that . I've never done anything but just tore the arms off myself because I had a t-shirt and got really stupid hot in the field while wearing a junky old T-shirt lol.
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Old 05-16-14, 10:29 PM   #40
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Or that . I've never done anything but just tore the arms off myself because I had a t-shirt and got really stupid hot in the field while wearing a junky old T-shirt lol.
It is worth it if you plan to trim the sleeves off more than 3-4 shirts. Once you slice the part off, you can then drop it off at a dry cleaner to get the edge hemmed so it looks like you bought it that way. You can even have mesh sleeves put on so you get ventilation but not sunburn.

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Old 05-16-14, 10:32 PM   #41
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Interesting. I'll have to keep that in mind. Thanks!
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Old 05-16-14, 10:58 PM   #42
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Borrow or buy one of these:



Attach it to your bicycle. Put your backpack, shoulder bag, or ice chest in the seat. Attach any little helmet to the seat back where at least some of it is visible. Watch cars behind you force oncoming traffic into the left side ditch they will give you so much space.

I am not kidding here. This is your last and only hope. It freaking works. This one is $40 new at Academy Sports. Garage sales are loaded with used ones, probably half of your friends have one in the attic. Add a safety triangle to the back if you want.

Again...this is NO JOKE. Try it and let me know how you do with a PM - please!
I think this is a brilliant idea--Thank you!
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Old 05-16-14, 11:06 PM   #43
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A writer several years ago did a little experiment to see how motorists reacted to different phrases on the back of his bike. Some were rude, some funny and some cleaver. He found the most successful phrase was, "Ex-wife got the car."
People gave him a wide berth, they nodded and waved at him.
I would buy this if it was available ready-made--Great idea!

On the other hand, I don't think that "See me now, *******" is particularly smart, since the AH in question outweighs me by about 2000 pounds.
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Old 05-16-14, 11:15 PM   #44
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I think this is a brilliant idea--Thank you!
The baby seat idea really made me laugh. What about a little skeleton baby with red LED's in its eye sockets?
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Old 05-17-14, 08:01 AM   #45
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The baby seat idea really made me laugh. What about a little skeleton baby with red LED's in its eye sockets?
Or a Chucky doll...



Yeah, I know it sounds funny but it really works AND doubles as a carrier for your stuff. And I can't take credit for the idea. Far as I know it was discovered by accident. I didn't have time to type the whole story at the time I posted the photo.

I went to college at LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the late '70s. Even though Baton Rouge is the state capital it was still a cow-town with a major college right smack in the middle of it and a poor cycling infrastructure once you were off campus. Add to that, LSU is an A&M college which sucks in pick-up trucks and their mentality like a tornado vortex during rush hours. I lived on campus, so I only experienced the real world mayhem during "pleasure" rides or certain errands.

A classmate lived off campus way down Highland Road. Narrow two lane twisty road with no shoulder that traverses countless university apartments, cul-de-sacs, and major road intersections. I biked it once myself, then avoided it totally after that experience. Terrible. Anyway, I get to talking with this guy and find out he bikes in down Highland road from pretty far out. I asked him about the mayhem and he told me he nearly died every day UNTIL...he discovered an unwanted baby carrier on top of someone's trash heap at the roadside. Since he wanted to get some sort of rack to carry his stuff instead of a backpack (but couldn't afford one) he grabbed the baby seat, attached it to his bike, tossed his books into it, and continued commuting.

For the first few minutes he couldn't figure it out. Cars were changing lanes completely to pass, waiting patiently behind him until they could do so, no horn blowing, no engine revving. Soon he realized what had changed - the new baby carrier. When I met him he had been using it for nearly two semesters and far as he could tell, nobody ever figured out there was not a baby in the thing - or at least would not assume there was not a baby in it THAT day.

Needless to say I remembered this brilliant "gift from the Gods" and recommended it to dozens of people over the years since. I have worked in or parallel to the bicycle industry for 25 years, sometimes on sales floors. For slower riders who are exposed to hundreds of cars passing them from behind every day in the city there is no better tool than the fake baby carrier for getting some respect. And the beauty, since there are no babies involved, the cheapest one is perfect and will carry about 20 lbs of groceries, books, whatever.

Like I said earlier - this is NO JOKE. This is one of those things that you encounter and at first go "AhhhHahahahahah.......wait a minute.......that's brilliant!" And when the pretty college girls ask "So how old is your baby?" it's up to you to come up with a heartwarming story or just tell them it's only a prop.

Last edited by JoeyBike; 05-17-14 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 05-17-14, 09:03 AM   #46
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So I checked out the area on Google Maps and Ride With GPS. Man you really live in a hole don't ya? Ah the joys of living outside of an urban area where you have to deal with suburban sprawl and rural roads everywhere. Such is my commute, except it's about 3 times farther.

Personally I would probably get a couple of mirrors (maybe helmet AND bar mounted), wear the brightest high-vis I could find, and the brightest rear light possible, which is going to be a Dinotte light, expensive yes but probably worth it. And then command that right lane on 290 like you own it. At least cars have a left lane there they can switch to and pass without getting into oncoming traffic. The farther back cars can see you, the more time they have to react and decide what to do.

When I first started commuting I got a mirror for my helmet. That by far made the biggest difference to my confidence on the road. These days when I ride home from work I take a 2-mile section of 5-lane 40 MPH road as opposed to a parallel 2-lane 35 MPH road with no shoulder. The 2-lane road gets steady traffic in the afternoon, which means there usually isn't enough of a break in oncoming traffic for cars behind me to pass (though some do it anyway). So I take that 5-lane road and pretty much never have any problems. I use 2 Cygolite Hotshot rear lights, wear high-vis jerseys and with my mirror, I can clearly see cars changing lanes 1/4 mile behind me. Every now and then there's that one that won't change lanes in time until they've had to drive behind me for a short distance. But it's rare that happens.
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Old 05-17-14, 10:32 AM   #47
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...get a couple of mirrors...
YES! (At least one).

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...wear the brightest high-vis I could find...
Couldn't hurt, but not totally necessary.

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...and the brightest rear light possible, which is going to be a Dinotte...
OH HELL YES!

My Dinotte changed my life. I bought it for city use when I noticed how many people were looking at their phones behind the wheel.

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The farther back cars can see you, the more time they have to react and decide what to do.
Exactly.

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...I can clearly see cars changing lanes 1/4 mile behind me....
My experience as well.

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When I first started commuting I got a mirror for my helmet. That by far made the biggest difference to my confidence on the road.
Takes the "unknown monster" and makes it known and visible to you. Knowing you are going to get buzzed ahead of time takes a lot of the fear and danger out of the situation. You see the car coming up and not moving over, you hold your line, the car passes. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then when nothing is roaring up behind you it is ok to relax and recover your nerve for the next assault. A mirror also keeps you from riding in the trash close to the edge of the road surface unless it is absolutely necessary.

Another good trick to know also requires a mirror to be effective. With mirror attached, ride about two feet off the edge of the tarmac IN the lane. Hold your ground when cars approach keeping an eye on them in the mirror. If some knucklehead is obviously going to buzz you, let them get fairly close THEN move to the edge. This adds 2 feet to the amount of space they were going to give you.

Last edited by JoeyBike; 05-17-14 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 05-17-14, 03:19 PM   #48
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My .02..... if you feel your original route is no longer safe take the extra 3 miles through the school zones...leave early enough to accommodate. if your safer on the other side of the road then use it...if you feel your giving up because you have to walk your bike, then brotha that's all you... I can't help ya, I can't count how many times i had to get off my bike to walk up a hill, because it kicked my ars, there's no shame in it... your on a bike using one less car.
+1
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Old 05-17-14, 05:38 PM   #49
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Or a Chucky doll...



Yeah, I know it sounds funny but it really works AND doubles as a carrier for your stuff. And I can't take credit for the idea. Far as I know it was discovered by accident. I didn't have time to type the whole story at the time I posted the photo.

I went to college at LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the late '70s. Even though Baton Rouge is the state capital it was still a cow-town with a major college right smack in the middle of it and a poor cycling infrastructure once you were off campus. Add to that, LSU is an A&M college which sucks in pick-up trucks and their mentality like a tornado vortex during rush hours. I lived on campus, so I only experienced the real world mayhem during "pleasure" rides or certain errands.

A classmate lived off campus way down Highland Road. Narrow two lane twisty road with no shoulder that traverses countless university apartments, cul-de-sacs, and major road intersections. I biked it once myself, then avoided it totally after that experience. Terrible. Anyway, I get to talking with this guy and find out he bikes in down Highland road from pretty far out. I asked him about the mayhem and he told me he nearly died every day UNTIL...he discovered an unwanted baby carrier on top of someone's trash heap at the roadside. Since he wanted to get some sort of rack to carry his stuff instead of a backpack (but couldn't afford one) he grabbed the baby seat, attached it to his bike, tossed his books into it, and continued commuting.

For the first few minutes he couldn't figure it out. Cars were changing lanes completely to pass, waiting patiently behind him until they could do so, no horn blowing, no engine revving. Soon he realized what had changed - the new baby carrier. When I met him he had been using it for nearly two semesters and far as he could tell, nobody ever figured out there was not a baby in the thing - or at least would not assume there was not a baby in it THAT day.

Needless to say I remembered this brilliant "gift from the Gods" and recommended it to dozens of people over the years since. I have worked in or parallel to the bicycle industry for 25 years, sometimes on sales floors. For slower riders who are exposed to hundreds of cars passing them from behind every day in the city there is no better tool than the fake baby carrier for getting some respect. And the beauty, since there are no babies involved, the cheapest one is perfect and will carry about 20 lbs of groceries, books, whatever.

Like I said earlier - this is NO JOKE. This is one of those things that you encounter and at first go "AhhhHahahahahah.......wait a minute.......that's brilliant!" And when the pretty college girls ask "So how old is your baby?" it's up to you to come up with a heartwarming story or just tell them it's only a prop.
Very interesting--Thanks!
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