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Old 06-24-08, 03:58 AM   #1
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Riding in the City

Quick post, made from an Internet Cafe where I've popped in to looksee what my friends here have been up to. I'm due to return home tomorrow sometime, after a week or more here being 'carer' for my son while he undergoes treatment.

Having a couple of bikes down here has been a sanity saver. I'm kinda blown away by how 'safe' it feels to ride around the central city area of Melbourne, to be quite honest! It actually feels safer than riding does around the regional centre where I live.

People around here don't even look askance at riders popping up onto the footpath in places to avoid knobbly intersections with tram lines all over the place, or even at riders who choose footpath over road. I guess it must be due to the fact that footpaths in the City here are generally rather wide.

Anyhoo, talk about riding around YOUR city. I'll pop back in and swap stories after I return home.

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Old 06-24-08, 06:23 AM   #2
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My brother-in-law just recently moved to Perth and has started bicycle commuting about 15K one way. In truth, I am absolutely floored by that since he is a Clyde with chronic back problems. His assessment of Perth is that it is designed to be bicycle friendly since the weather there is usually magnificent and there are MUPs everywhere and cycling is an integral part of the culture in those parts. I live in a suburb of Dallas and while I do ride the streets here, I cannot pretend I am anything more than prey for motorized predators and have to maintain the vigilance of a rabbit dancing with a coyote. I am starting to see more cyclists on the roads and hope to see even more, since that would increase overall driver awareness and safety for us all. What is it about Melbourne that is significantly different about your home turf? Is it more cyclists on the roads or is the city designed better for bicycles? In my town the prevalent culture thinks bicycles are toys, not vehicles and that makes a huge difference, I think.
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Old 06-24-08, 07:47 AM   #3
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Around here, I'd much rather ride in the city. Cyclists are common enough that drivers have learned how to deal with us. In the city, they understand that we are just another part of traffic.

The suburbs are another story entirely...

Rural areas are also much better at dealing with cyclists. Maybe since they know about other slow traffic, like tractors?
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Old 06-24-08, 09:55 AM   #4
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If I didn't ride in the city (San Diego) I wouldn't be riding. For the most part, it's quite enjoyable. There are a few major roads I avoid if I can, but even those are okay. I ride downtown and through the nearby "uptown" older neighborhoods, not the 'burbs. Almost all my riding is on city streets, not MUPs.
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Old 06-24-08, 10:48 AM   #5
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No pics to give you an idea of what London Traffic is like but imagine a 30 mph- nose to tail traffic jam. Except for the traffic lights- that is what it is like. Driving in London takes some skill and guts but all you have to do is be forcefull in where you are going and it works. Same with bike riding. Problem is that too many car drivers are pi&&ed off with cyclists being faster and better at navigating traffic- so watch out for the Idiot that is trying to knock you off your bike.
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Old 06-24-08, 10:31 PM   #6
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I've started commuting to work, a 22 mile round trip out of the city center (original ring of suburbs, ca 1910, where I live) to about the third ring of suburbs (ca 1970) where I work. The first couple of trips on long surface streets was kind of stressful, but I seem to have gotten used to it. Once in a while one of the typical hazards will appear (the SUV driving cell phone chatting oblivious speeder, the obnoxious aggressive big-a@@ pickup, the inexperienced cyclist struggling along at 10 MPH, the "selfish" city bus, etc.), but by and large it's pretty peaceful. Fridays are kind of scary - all these rushing car commuters driving as if gas were $.50 per gallon. Actually, when i think about it, the maneuvering in traffic, the constant shifting, braking, and accelerating while carrying a messenger bag have helped me be a more agile rider and feel more secure on the bike. I can play Social Darwinist on my commute, making up little stories about things I notice car drivers and other bike commuters doing that seem weird, funny, or just interesting. Riding in traffic has made me more fit. Last weekend, riding one of my "usual" weekend rec routes, I was able to average much faster, descend much faster, and feel less tired at the end of a 30+ mile steep climb/descent ride up and down a local canyon road. Riding in city traffic has made me a better rider, all around.
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Old 06-24-08, 10:40 PM   #7
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Back when I lived near downtown Houston, used to love riding the access roads for commuting and going places, much safer than other streets. The best Sunday ride was downtown, no one on the streets. I was younger and it didn't seem to matter about traffic. If I wanted or had to go there, I went. Living in the suburbs, though, seems much more deadly for cyclists. The two major ingress/egress streets for my area are four lane curbed streets with no shoulder. Speed limits are 40 and 45 respectively with drivers going 10+ over. Its not pleasant and the greenbelt multi-use trials, while paved and in good shape, are much too narrow for speedy travel, as well as having too many cutesy turns and curves. Makes me want to move back to the city.
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Old 06-25-08, 12:31 AM   #8
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My city doesn't really feel like a city but that's what the call it so it must be true.
Sure, we have 40,000 people here, seemingly, all of them in a car going someplace.
But we're spread out and separated into 4 or 5 or 6 different valleys and it's very much like living in a holler down south, I'd imagine

I spend most of my time on the roads and the overlords seem to have a very ambivalent attitude toward bikes in the city.

The driver, though, for the most part -for the vast most part- have a real good attitude about us two-wheelers. They will literally go out of their way to give up the right of way to bikes but certainly not to other cars, that's for sure. They've pretty much been unfailingly polite. They almost get cheesed off if I give the right of way back to them, in fact No, it's true.
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Old 06-25-08, 06:30 AM   #9
But on the road more
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I ride in the city (Philly), mostly to get to roads where I can really ride, with some hills even.

Biggest problem here? Other cyclists- the ones who don't/can't/won't follow the law. They blow through stop signs and red lights, ride the wrong way in bike lanes, ride on sidewalks, weave in and out of traffic (and I'm not just talking about bike messengers here), and just contribute to the general chaos that is already found on most Philadelphia streets. And these aren't just the kids on fixies and BMXs either- many of these are people in full kit on full carbon.

Next biggest problem is the cagers who likewise don't follow the law (see above- they do the same stuff), but have the added issue of assuming that cyclists are unpredictable maniacs in traffic (and, alas, they are often correct in that assumption). Some cagers are out to get us, but I think the vast majority just don't know how to handle being a driver around bicycle traffic.
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Old 06-25-08, 08:17 AM   #10
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I've been road riding since the hippie love-in days. I've always found it's easier, safer and more pleasnt to ride in urban core traffic than it is in the suburbs or beyond - as long you maintain awareness of right and left turners, wrong way bicycle riders, pedestrians who think don't walk signals don't apply to them when a fast road bike is coming through, and most of all, car doors opening. Except on multi-lane arterial-type roads, traffic usually isn't moving that much faster than a road bike can go.
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Old 06-25-08, 06:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ticwanos View Post
What is it about Melbourne that is significantly different about your home turf? Is it more cyclists on the roads or is the city designed better for bicycles? In my town the prevalent culture thinks bicycles are toys, not vehicles and that makes a huge difference, I think.

Combination of a few factors, I think. (And bear in mind that this was the first time I've ever ridden in that 'inner city' area.)

Mostly I think it's a combination of that slower moving traffic Longfemur mentions, and the fact that there are more cyclists to be found so drivers seem to be more aware of them. There are bike lanes of sorts all over the place. They're not particularly consistent in form or quality, but as I mentioned in the topic post it just doesn't seem 'wrong' to pop up onto the footpath when negotiating the particularly knobby bits. I'd imagine it'd be a bit different during the 'peak hours' when there footpaths were filled with people coming and going to work, but outside of that nobody gives a sideways glance to a cyclist who chooses even to ride the length of a street along a footpath. They're wide enough for that not to cause mayhem anywhere except the innermost shopping district.

Around the immediate outskirts of that inner city area I even found myself riding up onto the footpath in some spots, which is something I'd not do around my own area.

It's an intangible, but I sorta felt I 'belonged' to an extent I don't when riding around country towns, where the road traffic is lighter. Whilst down there I had a few conversations with cyclists who regularly commuted to work. They all remarked on how pleasant the riding was for them, and the fact that their commute was quicker on bike than in car.

It's all not enough to make me want to live there though. The place is too depressing overall. Why on Earth, in a city so lovely to look at, everyone chooses to wear blacks and greys bewilders me!
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Old 06-25-08, 09:30 PM   #12
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Like Ticwanos' part of DFW, south Arlington isn't very bicycle friendly, either. New neighborhoods are going up everywhere, with nice new smooth streets, but none of them go anywhere. You have to get out on higher speed through streets to actually get anywhere, and most drivers on these streets speed constantly, and aren't very bicycle aware or friendly at all. Our MUP's are just in greenway parks, and don't really go anywhere, either.
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