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  1. #1
    Senior Member the_tool_man's Avatar
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    Tired of getting buzzed

    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).

    The only other route that avoids this stretch adds 3 miles to my 7-mile commute. That's tolerable. But, it passes directly in front of three different schools, with the attendant traffic. So this option isn't available until summer break.

    The shoulder on "my" side is narrow, sloped away from the road, and pretty rough. But, the other side of the road is better. It even has a footpath of sorts worn in by pedestrians (though I've never seen anyone walking it). I'm considering finding a safe spot to cross over, dismounting, and walking my bike up the hill. I hate it, because I feel like I'm giving up. But I can't think of any other option. And, I don't want to get hit by a car. I haven't tried this yet. And it's not without its own issues (crossing the road twice). Walking up the hill on my side isn't an option.

    Here is a view of the hill in question. The yellow highlight represents my route. The red dashes represent the foot path. Note I turn off this road at the top of the hill, onto a nearly unused road. My alternate route merges at that turn from below:
    commute route 1.jpg

    Here is a street view of the uphill portion. You can see how narrow the shoulder is:
    commute pic 1.jpg

    The homebound direction is much better. I can nearly keep up with traffic going down that hill. And the other side of the valley is straight, with much better visibility and wider, flatter shoulders. Also, traffic is generally lighter at 4:45pm than at 6:45am. I suppose I might try going in earlier, to see if traffic is better. But, it just takes one car.

    Any other ideas?
    Last edited by the_tool_man; 05-14-14 at 11:49 AM. Reason: Added images
    Optimist: The glass is half-full.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    I would say get a stand light for rear & perhaps light on helmet. Otherwise not much you can do. Motor vehicles by law are supposed to not endanger other vehicle operators, and if you feel this has happened, definitely notify law enforcement with vehicle direction and description. I'd also not to ride too close to the right line, but in the right quarter of the lane, this way any parts of the road that have holes or the shoulder collapsed you don't go into the hole!

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

  3. #3
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    Seems like i get more clearance from people passing me when I have more and brighter tail lights/blinkies...
    I've tried same route with lights on and off... and this seems to hold.

    Just an thought.

  4. #4
    Senior Member the_tool_man's Avatar
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    I thought about mounting some sort of LED grid on the back, with a running marquis message or something. You know..."Allow three feet" or "Wait until clear to pass" or "Please don't hit me". But then I decided I was over-thinking this and I should try walking the hill.
    Optimist: The glass is half-full.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member bconneraz's Avatar
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    the alternate route that passes the 3 shcools; do you pass those schools at the begining or end of the school day? If not, traffic may not be an issue in front of them. My commute puts me past 2 Jr High's and a High School. I only ever have an issue if I leave work early, around the same time school gets out and I happen to be passing by.
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  6. #6
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    (I'll move over to this thread now)
    I often considered hauling a lawnmower out to my dangerous part and trimming the grass myself so I could get off the road . Then realized it would be pointless.

  7. #7
    OlyCommuter babaluey's Avatar
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    You could combine your two possible solutions - take the alternate route AND change the time to avoid the school rush. Any chance your employer would let you modify your work schedule to accommodate this?

  8. #8
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Reidville Rd shows up as a bike route on Google Maps.

  9. #9
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    Echoing what others said: Is school traffic an issue on the alternate route at 6:45 am?
    http://treadrightly.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I think a large array of lots and lots of tail lights says, "Please me nice to me, please, please, please." I don't use many tail lights at once often, but when I do, it appears that I'm conveying that message.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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  11. #11
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by treadtread View Post
    Echoing what others said: Is school traffic an issue on the alternate route at 6:45 am?
    It is around here. My original 14.5 mile route to work took me past 3 schools between 6 and 7 AM, and traffic is just nuts. And it's all on 2-lane roads also. I now ride a 15.5 mile route that goes by no schools.

    I will also say that yesterday I left the house about 15 minutes earlier than normal (5:45 AM) and noticed a BIG difference in traffic on my usual roads. This one section of road that usually sees a number of cars pass me, I think only one did yesterday.
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  12. #12
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    commute route 1.jpg

    There's a trail or 2-track visible on the upper left corner of that picture. I can't make out the entire thing but I can make out enough to see that it appears to go from the neighborhood at the top to the area in the bottom left.

    Have you given that a try? It may not be very rideable or it could work nicely for you.

  13. #13
    Senior Member wbuttry's Avatar
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    10 mph journey

  14. #14
    Senior Member TransitBiker's Avatar
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    One steady and one blinking? Reflective tape? Slow moving vehicle triangle?

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  15. #15
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_tool_man View Post
    Any other ideas?
    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!
    Last edited by JoeyBike; 05-14-14 at 07:03 PM.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  16. #16
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Your visibility is sufficient. They are buzzing you because they want to get by without crossing the double yellow. Try looking more unhinged.

  17. #17
    Senior Member andyprough's Avatar
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    I always use my mirror in areas like that. If someone wants to buzz me - I'm not scared or bothered too much as long as I can see them coming. If they are out of control and I have to ditch the bike to avoid getting hit from behind - I take down license and/or description and call 911. I have seen police go flying by me to chase down a car about 1 minute after I called 911 before, so it does seem to have some value, especially if the police are already in the area. Keep in mind that by phoning in an out-of-control driver, you are possibly saving the life of someone else down the road.

    Be safe. Recently I started driving my pickup truck the first five miles of my route to avoid a particularly nasty piece of road that's under construction, but I still get to enjoy my commute from that point. Hopefully construction will be done soon, at which point I should have a nice bike lane or nice wide shoulder the entire way.

  18. #18
    Senior Member the_tool_man's Avatar
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    Wow, lots of responses. I really appreciate that.

    Visibility: I don't think the problem is that the drivers can't see me. The problem is that they don't like being delayed for a minute in order to wait for a safe time to pass. Even so, more lights couldn't hurt, and might garner some sympathy. Maybe I could rig up a flexible boom with a light on it that would force cars to pass me with more clearance, like the Safety Wing linked above.

    Route/time: If I were to go the long way, I'd pass the schools between 6:30am and 7:00am. This is a VERY busy time for the schools; probably the worst possible time for me to come riding by. Going into work earlier is doable on some days, schedule wise (my employer NEVER minds if I come in early). But that would also probably mean I could go my original route, as commuter traffic would be lighter. I can certainly experiment with that. But it won't work for me every day, due to my schedule. Indecently, I sometimes take the long route home past the schools. By that time of day, they're deserted.

    Trails through the woods: In years past, I've explored several potential routes using paths through the woods in this area. I haven't tried the one in the satellite image. But all the others have not worked due to private property, terrain, and rivers. I'll check it out, but I suspect the river in the bottom of that valley will present a problem.

    Someone mentioned Reidville Rd. That does indeed have bike lanes. It is part of my route, as well. But, it doesn't go past where I work.

    Keep the ideas coming.
    Last edited by the_tool_man; 05-14-14 at 08:33 PM.
    Optimist: The glass is half-full.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member the_tool_man's Avatar
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    Just for fun, I diagrammed my route choices. The red circle is the entrance to my neighborhood. The red star is work. The green route is my preferred one, with the dangerous section in yellow. The blue route is the longer option, with the three schools shown in red.

    commute route 2.JPG

    When I started commuting years ago, I took the blue route to the intersection of 290, and went down the paved median of 290 most of the way. This is actually the shortest paved route. But, using the median is illegal, and presents its own dangers at intersections where traffic turns left. With the increased traffic over the passage of time, and construction of two of those three schools, the 290 median option is no longer viable. Riding in the lane on 290, where cars and semi trucks routinely travel at 55-60mph, is suicide. There is a curb with no shoulder, bike lane, or even a sidewalk.
    Optimist: The glass is half-full.
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    Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

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  20. #20
    Delusions of Grandeur Dzrtrat's Avatar
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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.

  21. #21
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I'd probably go for a flash flag or some other similar spring loaded pole that sticks out 3 feet to the left. Put a bit of grey plastic that looks like a jagged piece of metal on the end. They may not care about your life, but they won't risk their paint job.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  22. #22
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_tool_man View Post
    Just for fun, I diagrammed my route choices. The red circle is the entrance to my neighborhood. The red star is work. The green route is my preferred one, with the dangerous section in yellow. The blue route is the longer option, with the three schools shown in red.

    commute route 2.JPG
    It looks like what you really need is a rowing shell.

    Kidding aside, can you get through the woods to the road along the river?
    Last edited by Darth Lefty; 05-15-14 at 02:38 PM.

  23. #23
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I saw a motorcycle yesterday that had a sign on the fender that said "new rider". I thought that was brilliant. I was driving at the time, and I definitely gave this guy extra consideration because of his sign. I thought maybe I need to hang something like that on my back. I'm not a new rider, of course, but the people in cars don't know that. I'm not sure how much it would help with people going 50 mph though.

  24. #24
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_tool_man View Post

    commute route 2.JPG

    When I started commuting years ago, I took the blue route to the intersection of 290, and went down the paved median of 290 most of the way. This is actually the shortest paved route. But, using the median is illegal, and presents its own dangers at intersections where traffic turns left. With the increased traffic over the passage of time, and construction of two of those three schools, the 290 median option is no longer viable. Riding in the lane on 290, where cars and semi trucks routinely travel at 55-60mph, is suicide. There is a curb with no shoulder, bike lane, or even a sidewalk.
    Does this work?

    Head southwest on SC-296 W toward Cumberland Dr
    1.7 mi

    Turn left to stay on SC-296 W
    0.1 mi

    Turn right at SC-290
    46 ft

    Turn left onto SC-296 W/Reidville Rd
    2.3 mi

    Turn right onto Gano Dr
    1.2 mi

    Turn right onto State Rd S-42-135
    0.4 mi

    Turn right onto Berry Shoals Rd
    0.2 mi

    Slight left onto State Rd S-42-676/Tucapau Rd
    0.9 mi

    Continue onto Tyger River Dr
    1.4 mi

    Turn right onto Hidden Lake Cir
    0.3 mi

    Turn right onto Spartangreen Blvd

    I can't tell about traffic, but it looks like this alternative might avoid the schools and though you cross 290 twice, you don't have to ride on it. Google maps calls this route 8.8 miles, which is longer than your regular route, but I never mind adding miles to gain safety.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member the_tool_man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scroca View Post
    Does this work?...I can't tell about traffic, but it looks like this alternative might avoid the schools and though you cross 290 twice, you don't have to ride on it. Google maps calls this route 8.8 miles, which is longer than your regular route, but I never mind adding miles to gain safety.
    I'd guess it's a wash. It still passes by the worst of the three schools. The bike lane on Reidville Rd. ends where it crosses 290, forcing me to share with 50mph traffic on a two-lane for 2.3 miles. There is a very long uphill stretch, probably the middle third of the distance between 290 and Gano, though it is far more open than the danger zone in my original post. On the positive side, I hadn't realized how short that route was, compared to the blue route in my map. And, it only crosses 290 twice. I might give that a shot. Thanks.
    Optimist: The glass is half-full.
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    Masi 3VC Volumetrica
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