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Old 11-06-12, 04:50 PM   #1
16Victor 
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On the road again...or not? Fear of drivers with cell phones...

I'm really enjoying my return to the sport after a long hiatus. My wife really likes some of the local riverside cycling/skating/running trails, and so do I. It's a great way to get out with her alone now that the kids can handle themselves on their on (most of the time). She's new to this but interested enough to justify our getting her a nice road bike.

So now I want to get on some rural roads with her but she's deathly afraid of getting hit by a car, citing lack of attention by drivers texting and talking, etc. She's got a point.

So, question is, for those who have ridden continuously the years before mobile phones, how does road riding compare then to now? Same/worse/death wish? Are her fears justified or overblown?
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Old 11-06-12, 05:06 PM   #2
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Are her fears justified or overblown?
Does it matter? Nothing we say is likely to change her feelings. Sorry.
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Old 11-06-12, 05:13 PM   #3
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It only takes one car to ruin your day no matter the cause.

I use a mirror and a Dinnotte Tail light in the day time.

I scan the mirror every 3-6 seconds.

Have fun and remain alert to everything on the road.



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Old 11-06-12, 05:59 PM   #4
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Does it matter? Nothing we say is likely to change her feelings. Sorry.
^^^This^^^ I'd try to find some low-traffic, low-speed roads that are fairly wide so any vehicles that come along have lots of room. It took a while to get my wife accustomed to having 55 MPH+ traffic passing within a few feet of her but she is fine with it now. Also, be very visible and alert. Doesn't hurt to ride behind and to the left of your wife. It will keep traffic a bit further away from her.
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Old 11-06-12, 06:04 PM   #5
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I also ride a 1200cc Motorcycle, This I obviously ride WITH traffic.

When I ride my LWB Recumbent I tend to stick to marked bike lanes. If they dont exsist I do sidewalks.

I will not ride in the car lanes anywhere but neghborhood streets.

Again If I am IN traffic I am as fast or faster...
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Old 11-06-12, 06:14 PM   #6
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Yes it is a constant concern and of course fear--being very visible and very aware of the danger is helpful--one develops a six sense once on the bike riding the road!
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Old 11-06-12, 06:14 PM   #7
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It's safer now where I live (NorCal) than back in the 80s. Mostly because there's more cyclists so drivers are a bit more used to driving around us. There's also more bike lanes on the roads and more roads have wide shoulders for cyclists.

I ride in traffic. Riding on sidewalks is a good way to die, at least around here. Drivers don't expect anyone on a sidewalk, let alone something that's as fast as a bicycle.

I concur with the recommendation for starting out on roads with wide shoulders, preferably lightly trafficed.

I find riding on the road much safer than riding on the bike path, what with children darting across the path, people jogging with baby strollers, people who stop randomly in the path to stare at their cell phone, and oncoming cyclists who're avoiding all of them.
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Old 11-06-12, 06:25 PM   #8
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My attitude is that it is worth the risk. You can control almost anything but someone hitting you from behind, and that will either happen, or it won't.
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Old 11-06-12, 06:29 PM   #9
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I'm afraid of drivers with cell phones. I'm afraid of them on my bike. I'm afraid of them in my car. I'm afraid of them walking in a parking lot or on a sidewalk near a road.

I'm not any more afraid of them on a bicycle than on a parking lot or in my car, however. They're just as likely to kill or maim me in any situation, and I'm not going to vegetate in my house, from fear of them.

That said, fear is not amenable to reason, and if the fear kills any feeling of enjoyment, then that's it.

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Old 11-06-12, 07:55 PM   #10
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My advice would be to get her on the bike. Take her to some not so traveled greenways, paths, not so busy areas. Once she develops some confidence on the bike she will be more open to riding the other without much fear. Our love of riding keeps us from allowing drivers to keep us off the roads. I just recently had my first incident. See my post "Bicycling and Boxing". Cheers!!
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Old 11-07-12, 07:10 AM   #11
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I don't sense it is any different now than before cell-phones. It's just as safe/dangerous. Do everything you can to stay visible (bright lights even in the day time, like 10 Wheels suggests and keep checking the mirror) and ride. With the health benefits of cycling I think it would be more dangerous to stop riding than to face down the cagers.
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Old 11-07-12, 07:36 AM   #12
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Cycling is not for the risk-averse.

I also took a 10 year hiatus from cycling and was put off by the increased electronic device use, not only by drivers but by some cyclists, when I returned. My only concession was buying one of those bright yellow jackets and using a reflector traffic vest in warmer weather.

To the note above about cycling behind and to the left of the leader, don't do that if the leader is using a mirror.

Speaking of which, if she's not using a mirror, maybe that could help? No ear buds, either. Situational awareness works best for me. Similar to driving a car, I got in the habit of looking in my mirror every few seconds and I have moved over to make room for the clueless. Clearance laws or not, we only get one chance.

I'm surprised at the number of cyclists who don't use a mirror, and at how many see mine and say, "I need to get one of those." I don't care about the rest who think I'm an old man for using one, because I am.
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Old 11-07-12, 08:13 AM   #13
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Changes I've made in the past 7 years:

-no earbuds.
-back red light on at all times.
-"running light" at the front at all times (Mininewt 350 set at lowest power).
-right and left sided mirrors.
-more and more hi-viz clothing. I think it really makes a difference.
-soon I will have a Go-Pro routinely running to catch offenders.

I saw they voted to legalize pot in Colorado and Washington. It will be interesting to see if it will have any impact on traffic fatalities. Some dude on a cell phone ordering pizza after a few bong hits and driving around can't be a good thing I don't think.
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Old 11-07-12, 08:54 AM   #14
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I am encountering many fewer traffic issues than I did years ago, almost a night and day difference. I simply learned to ride safely.
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Old 11-07-12, 09:56 AM   #15
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I have been road riding seriously since 1974. In that time, I have been hit by inattentive drivers four times. It has happened about every ten years so the spacing between incidents hasn't changed. That tells me that driver awareness is at least keeping pace with driver numbers and distractions. Is there a risk? Sure. Is that risk acceptable? That is a question only your wife can answer.
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Old 11-07-12, 10:24 AM   #16
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I am encountering many fewer traffic issues than I did years ago, almost a night and day difference. I simply learned to ride safely.
This too. Very few incidents. I think people feel sorry for me. Still, cell phones, drugs legal and otherwise, and general incivity worry me a lot.
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Old 11-07-12, 11:47 AM   #17
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Alternatively to all the good thoughts already listed, you could get her a mountain bike and go hit some trails first... If that 'takes', then maybe transition to roads once she feels more confident in her own skills.
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Old 11-07-12, 12:07 PM   #18
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I'm afraid of drivers with cell phones. I'm afraid of them on my bike. I'm afraid of them in my car. I'm afraid of them walking in a parking lot or on a sidewalk near a road.

I'm not any more afraid of them on a bicycle than on a parking lot or in my car, however. They're just as likely to kill or maim me in any situation, and I'm not going to vegetate in my house, from fear of them.

That said, fear is not amenable to reason, and if the fear kills any feeling of enjoyment, then that's it.
+1

I had a situation last week where it appeared that the driver was distracted (whether or not it was a cell phone or not, I don't know - and it really doesn't matter), and immediately after passing me, the vehicle started moving into the bike lane, and almost hit the line of cars parked on the side of the street. I'm just glad he/she hadn't been distracted just a few seconds earlier, and I'm glad I wasn't taking the lane at the moment.

But knowing that there are irresponsible idiots driving around out there doesn't stop me from riding my bike. My wife may not like that I commute in the dark, but she doesn't express her concerns or try to talk me out of it, because she knows I enjoy it. This week, she started bike-commuting to work, too - but her work is only 1/2 mile from the house at the moment.
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Old 11-07-12, 12:45 PM   #19
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Thanks for all the replies. We'll continue to use trails through the winter as weather permits, because she has to get used to the new bike and being cleated in (and that's a gradual process by itself).

Come springtime, I reckon we'll look at some roadside paths, and see how she does there.

She's very much a worrier and subject to panic attacks when driving, so I don't want to throw her in too fast.

Again, I appreciate the time you've made in making your replies. It did me a lot of good reading that the situation is not really any worse now. Come to think of it, I felt like a was real oddball in the early '80s when riding; cyclists are pretty common sights nowadays. I have a lot of road experience from way back. For me it's a matter of getting out there and remembering the courtesies, lane placement, and being cautious and alert. It'll come back quickly, kind of like riding a bike...
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Old 11-07-12, 01:00 PM   #20
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I saw they voted to legalize pot in Colorado and Washington. It will be interesting to see if it will have any impact on traffic fatalities. Some dude on a cell phone ordering pizza after a few bong hits and driving around can't be a good thing I don't think.
Any different than a few scotches?
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Old 11-07-12, 07:08 PM   #21
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John Hiatt's song lyrics include some of my favorite quotes. the one that comes to mind here is from "Thing Called Love".

We can live in fear or act out of hope...
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Old 11-07-12, 07:43 PM   #22
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Any different than a few scotches?
Wouldn't a few scotches put your BAL over the legal limit?

is there such thing as BCL (blood cannabis level)?
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Old 11-07-12, 07:55 PM   #23
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Because of traffic safety concerns, I ride less than I otherwise might. For recreational cycling, I pick my routes, my time of day, and my weather conditions carefully. For transportation cycling, I select lower-speed streets where possible -- this was much easier when I lived in Los Angeles, with its well-interconnected grid of residential streets.

I have become a mirror evangelist, and I think bright lights are a great idea, as well. My wife gave up road cycling out of fear of traffic, and I know she worries about me when I am out there. However, if I thought the danger were that high, I would probably not ride. I have become a huge advocate of traffic calming, reduced speed limits, and squaring of freeway-style merges and diverges.
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Old 11-07-12, 09:34 PM   #24
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My attitude is that it is worth the risk. You can control almost anything but someone hitting you from behind, and that will either happen, or it won't.
Well, using lights, scanning your mirrors, etc may help. I also have started using a Contour camera on non-group rides. It may or may not help but it maybe I'll get lucky and it'll provide a little more information in the event of an accident or close call.
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Old 11-07-12, 09:59 PM   #25
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Tough situation. Second what other posters said, including: ride in daylight, take wider streets with less traffic, avoid sidewalks, but MUPs are good except where roads enter, be aware, take no chances by stopping at intersections etc. Trust no drivers.

These give you the best chance. My wife fell, broke a rib and promptly sold her bike. There's no guarantees in life. Risks are worth it or not depending on the person. Life is also short as I know too well. Let us know what she decides
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